Coloratura soprano Brenda Rae and pianist Jonathan Ware graced the Terrace Theatre Sunday afternoon with a program featuring songs of Romantic era masters Richard Strauss, Fanny Mendelssohn, and Franz Liszt, as well as Modern era composer Dominick Argento, and the world premiere of a song cycle by contemporary American composer, Lowell Liebermann.
…providing Rae with the opportunity to demonstrate the remarkable dramatic power, musicality, and vocal clarity she wields so effortlessly.
Rae opened the recital with a collection of songs by Richard Strauss, including the sublimely beautiful “Die Nacht,” “Schlagende Herzen,” and “Fruhlingsgedrange.” Selections by Fanny Mendelssohn and Franz Liszt completed the first half of the program, providing Rae with the opportunity to demonstrate the remarkable dramatic power, musicality, and vocal clarity she wields so effortlessly.
Dominik Argento’s Six Elizabethan Songs opened the program’s second half followed by the world premiere of Lowell Lieberman’s Five Songs on Poems by Jean Starr Untermeyer Op. 135, a work written expressly for Rae, who selected the poems from Dreams Out of Darkness, a collection of Untermeyer’s poetry published in 1921. Lieberman’s songs are a masterful blend of music and poetry that by turns conjure ancient echoes of heartbreak, moments of sweet melancholy, and nature’s expansive, timeless beauty. The piece will have its UK debut at London’s Wigmore Hall in November.
Especially notable was the elegance and sensitivity of Ware’s pianism, a reminder that although singers typically receive top billing, an art song recital, particularly a program as demanding as that presented by Rae and Ware, is truly a collaborative effort.
Running Time: Approximately one hour and 20 minutes with one 20-minute intermission.
Brenda Rae gave one performance on Sunday, September 15, in the Terrace Theatre at The John F. Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20566.