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CLASSICAL  May 2005

CLASSICAL May 2005

Subject:

Broncoveanu

From:

Janos Gereben <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 1 May 2005 22:23:34 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (54 lines)

There are four distinct voices in Carl Loewe's "Erlkonig": narrator,
father, son, and the Erl King.  A major young talent, baritone Eugen
Brancoveanu, performed the song tonight by giving voice to each character,
shifting effortlessly between them, maintaining the work's unity, integrity
and power.  It was thrilling to witness a true singing actor in full
bloom, even at the beginning of his career.  (He is already getting roles
in opera houses around the world, including his native Romania.)

The Schwabacher Debut Recital tonight in San Francisco's Temple Emanu-El
was one of the best in the series, Brancoveanu finally conquering the
hall's tricky acoustics.  Where his talented fellow Fellows huffed and
puffed, trying to blow the walls down, the baritone adjusted, dared to
sing quietly when appropriate, holding all but a couple of the "big
finish" phrases in check.  The singer had excellent support in John Parr,
whose accompaniment was both effective and self-effacing.  Parr himself
was among the loud ones in this hall in the past, but all went well
tonight.

The program was interesting, varied and substantial, allowing Brancoveanu
to shine in four languages.  His German in Loewe and Mahler, English in
Finzi, French in Ravel, and Italian in Respighi were all clear and
idiomatic.  His diction, projection, convincing phrasing, and ability
to bring stories to life in a sincere, engaging manner all indicate a
bright future.

The voice, impressive as it is, cannot be described similarly, with all
thumbs up.  It's a powerful voice, with a true baritone (not "bass-baritone")
range, a fine resonance, the vibrato exactly right, but it all seems to
come from the throat, not from the chest.  It has some rough edges, a
lack of sufficiently velvety texture.  Perhaps if the sound came from a
deeper place than it does now, there could be more warmth to the voice.

Finzi's "Let Us Garlands Bring," three songs by Loewe, and Ravel's "Don
Quichotte" (usually performed by a bass) were all fine, as was a set of
three Respighi lieder in the second half of the concert.  The centerpiece,
Mahler's "Kindertotenlieder," was not quite in the same category.
Musically and emotionally, it needed more depth.

Brancoveanu's interpretation of the cycle lacked the numbness that's at
the root of the first three songs, the feeling from which the deep sorrow
of "Often I think that they have only stepped out," and the rage of "In
this weather" spring logically and with maximum impact.  It was a good
performance, but the feelings - which Brancoveanu is so effective
communicating - were too uniform.  And yet, there is no question that
he will be a splendid opera singer, using his innate (and perhaps not
yet fully developed) ability to communicate.

Brancoveanu made his Carnegie Hall debut in April, in MTT's "The
Thomashefskys" program, which he will participate in again next month,
making his San Francisco Symphony debut.

Janos Gereben/SF
www.sfcv.org
[log in to unmask]

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