POETRY AND LOVE
SONGS BY SHCUMANN, R STRAUSS, RODRIGO
Esplanade Recital Studio, Singapore
Christine Seng - soprano
Kee Loi Seng - tenor
Vincent Chen - piano
Christina Zhou - violin
17th January 2015
A Review by Hawk Liu
The concert was a good programme of lieder music which was kept interesting by having different voices for each song cycle in the first half of Schumann and an unusual addition of a round of Spanish songs in the second half along with the Richard Strauss.
Christine Seng started with Frauenliebe und Leben. There was a detachment from the text until the last 2 movements when the singer became more connected. It was a bright and light voice which unfortunately didn't lend itself well to the nature of the music. The voice was also not in pitch often.
Kee Loi Seng gave a lot of commitment to the sentiments of the text in the next (half) cycle, Dichterliebe. It was a mostly italianated approach to the phrasing, albeit still sounding appropriate. Kee Loi Seng finished off well with the last movement (Ich grolle nicht). The voice was rich and attractive.
The Richard Strauss were all gems with the very capable Vincent Chen (pianist) giving the most exquisite accompaniment in Stänchen. Christina Zhou plays an effective violin solo (though I would have preferred a stronger and more focused tone) in Morgen to Christine Seng's soprano. Kee Loi Seng gave a full hearted Allerseelen. It was vocally satisfying though rather Italianated. The voice did remind me of the spaniard, Francisco Araiza.
After the exciting familiar Strauss, it was time for the unusual inclusion of Rodrigo. Christine Seng showed off her high coloratura skills in 'de donde venis,amore?' Seng connected much better with the sprightly pieces where her bright timbre was suited. Unfortunately, the pitching was in question again for a number of places in the Spanish pieces too.
The final duet from West Side Story was vocally well sung but a bit of a misadventure for the tenor in terms of the text and pronunciation, and the soprano in terms of pitching. Even the pianist who stumbled in a few places.
Despite some misgivings, I found the concert a most interesting one with interpretations that went along roads less travelled.
(Disclaimer - I LOVE Italian singing!)