A primary outing by The Lieder Society of Victoria after what appeared a Lockdown eternity was definitely sufficient to place a spring in any Lieder lover’s step. “Spring Recital” provided additional sights in two extremely gifted singers – tenor Michael Petrucelli and baritone Michael Lampard – accompanied by famend pianist Phillipa Safey in a program of elegant vocal music by Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms. What’s extra, we had been assured by LSV President, Ian Lowe, that we had been permitted to take away masks if we so wished.
Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte (To the Distant Beloved) may effectively be the music cycle that epitomises what so many individuals skilled – and proceed to expertise – throughout this time of COVID, particularly because it was given so many outings as a part of his 250th birthday celebrations final yr. Gertrude Opera masterminded some of the memorable sequence of performances wherein folks may ebook a private cellphone name to have any individual sing the entire 15-minute work to them. You even had a alternative of voice kind and whether or not you needed it sung in German or English. My soprano sang in German, and really effectively certainly, however the sound of pre-recorded piano accompaniment was problematic, to place it politely. Phillipa Safey’s enjoying was the polar reverse – sensitively colored and at one with the singer. The six songs of the cycle are carried out with no break, and Safey supplied admirably linked musical move and shifts in sentiment. Michael Petrucelli is a superb communicator – cheerful and enthusiastic in his quick introductions to the items and completely immersed within the ambiance of the music. From the outset, his sensitivity to musical nuance and skill to form a phrase had been evident within the transition from a quiet, meditative opening because the poet sits interested by his distant beloved to the quickening pulse of longing. All through the music cycle particulars of dynamic and tempo variations had been noticed to specific the emotional vary of Alois Jeitteles’ poems and Beethoven’s music. The ultimate forte assertion that “a loving coronary heart be reached” affirmed Petrucelli’s declare that the poet/singer by no means loses hope, but it surely was an intensely shifting journey to achieve that optimistic level.
Michael Lampard is finest identified for his operatic performances and has the voice to match – one which earned him a nomination for a Inexperienced Room Award for his efficiency as Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde for Melbourne Opera. Widmung, the primary of his bracket of three songs by Schumann, opened with a stunning explosion of sound – burnished, centered and true. Quieter sections adopted the rapturous starting with a pleasingly modulated second verse. Following an expressive Einsamkeit (Solitude), Lampard was in his dramatic component with Die beiden Grenadiere (The Two Grenadiers) with its aggressive martial character and bombastic allegiance to his “Kaiser” to the tune of the French Nationwide Anthem, tempered by some softer moments of grieving.
The 2 Michaels then got here collectively for the primary of two brackets of duets by Schumann. Though Lampard is ready to sing softly, his bigger instrument tended to dominate, and it was primarily as a result of the ear is drawn to the higher voice, which usually has the chief melody, that each voices might be heard clearly. A pleasure to listen to, probably no person minded that they started with Schumann’s Drei Duette with Wenn ich ein Vöglein battle (If I had been a Little Chook), a music apparently written for soprano and alto. Safey’s piano skipped alongside joyously – harp-like in Herbstlied (Autumn Tune) and with vivacious rippling clear articulation in Schön Blümelein (Honest Little Flowers). The final was notable for a remaining resonant “schönen Dank”.
The second half of this system adopted the format of the primary with Lampard introducing Brahms’ Vier ernste Gesänge (4 Critical Songs) – a wonderful alternative effectively suited to his voice with its substantial decrease register and safe higher notes. The unforced clarion ring of O Tod (O Demise) was a stark prelude to a contemplation of how completely different males face the prospect of demise. Petrucelli’s bracket of three Schumann songs included Mondnacht (Moonlit Night time), some of the magical Lied ever composed. It’s all the time a query of whether or not the singer can preserve a seamless legato line, sustaining pitch in a slowly rising phrase that opens every verse. And Michael Petrucelli can. He was proper within the second, not trying on the rating in entrance of him, simply weaving the spell, spinning out the fragile gossamer thread to the very finish. Two extra Schumann duets from his Spanische Liebeslieder ended this splendidly satisfying recital on an upbeat observe.
Heather Leviston reviewed “Spring Recital”, offered by the Lieder Society of Victoria at Camberwell Uniting Church on November 21, 2021.