Pianist Brian Moll presided over an absolutely delightful evening of song by faculty members at Longy School of Music on Saturday, October 17. His collaborators, soprano Mara Bonde and baritone Jesse Blumberg, were stunning, with perfect intonation, diction, accent, and fantastic stage presence. Moll’s accompaniment always supported and encouraged them, both dynamically and emotionally. Moll is renowned both as an accompanist and as a vocal coach, with an emphasis on the text and the meaning of the song. The performances showed just how effective he can be. He also picked a wonderful selection of songs.
The evening started with three lively Schumann duets – sung with great verve, great diction, and lots of smiles, gestures, and laughter between the singers. Brahm’s “Weg der Liebe” ended the duet series. Blumberg followed with four serious songs of love, longing, and death by Hugo Wolf, from the poetry of Morike. His singing was restrained, gorgeous, and moving. One of the high points of the concert for me. Bonde followed with six Spanish songs by de Falla – a welcome change into almost flamenco style.
The second half started with Blumberg singing the “Histoires Naturelles” of Ravel, a seldom heard series of satiric prose descriptions of the curious actions of animals. Very funny, and wonderfully sung. Bonde than sang five short pieces by Reynaldo Hahn, unfamiliar to me, but beautiful. The last suite of duets included two by Ives, then one by Stephen Foster. The next was a lovely and moving duet by Allen Bonde, Mara’s father, a professor of composition at Mt. Holyoke College. The encore was a lively and funny rendition of “I can do anything better than you” from Annie Get Your Gun. Couldn’t have been better!
The penultimate song was a very funny plea for a good review by Lori Laitman. I hope this one qualifies – they all deserve it.