On a lilac-scented evening I ventured into Manhattan for a friend's performance. Mariko (of Unto Ashes fame) had invited me to join her family and friends at a recital she gave tonight.
The recital was an eclectic multilingual mix of classical and modern music. The program began with a trio of Purcell songs ("If Music Be the Food of Love", "Music for Awhile" and "Sweeter Than Roses"), followed by three selections from Hugo Wolf's Mignon (text by Goethe) and four Russian songs with music by Stravinsky. (I'm not a Stravinsky fan, but I actually liked these -- not my usual reaction to his music by any means!)
After intermission the audience was treated to four selections from Poulenc's Tel jour telle nuit (text by the surrealist Paul Eluard) and three pieces from a rock-opera-in-progress by Thad Wheeler called Justine's Red. The performance ended with an encore of an original song called "She's Alone" by Mariko's other band Kickdrive (formerly known as Heart's Apocalypse) with bandmate Jaime accompanying her on guitar.
Mariko looked resplendent in a long green evening gown as she sang. One of the things I liked most about her performance was the clarity with which she sang the words, including those to the songs with lyrics in German, French or Russian. One of my pet peeves with classical vocalists (particularly those who use the bel canto style) is that they put sooooooo much emphasis on making a lovely sound that they forget that enunciation is also important, particularly when singing in a foreign language. I regret to say that there have been performances I've attended where I was unable to understand what the words were of the songs being sung, even when they were being sung in English -- a recent NYC Opera production of Porgy and Bess springs to mind here -- a situation I find most disconcerting, to say the least!
This was not a problem Mariko had -- every singly word that floated from her mouth was clearly intelligible, no matter what language she used. My Russian is Teh Suck but I'm fluent in French and German and I had no need to consult the printed program to follow what she was singing, which was a pleasant change from performances by other vocalists that I've attended in the past.
I particularly enjoyed the selections from Justine's Red and how she performed them. I'm hoping to see and hear her do more from Wheeler's work-in-progress in the not-too-distant future.
After the performance there was a reception, where I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with members of her family as well as chit-chatting with her friends and bandmates. The members of Kickdrive were all in attendance and those I'd not met before I now had a chance to converse with, such as the new drummer Cramer, a very personable fellow. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Mike remembered me from our first meeting back in November when Unto Ashes played CBGB -- I hadn't thought I was that memorable, but apparently I was mistaken . . .
They are planning on playing the Knitting Factory on June 11th, so barring unforseen circumstances, I plan on seeing them performing there that evening.
Current Mood: cheerful
Current Music: "Music for Awhile" by Henry Purcell