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CLASSICAL  April 2008

CLASSICAL April 2008

Subject:

Mack the Diva

From:

Janos Gereben <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 7 Apr 2008 18:55:29 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (81 lines)

Don't Cry for Her Argentina
By Janos Gereben
Schwabacher Debut Recital Series
April 6, 2008
Temple Emanu-El
Daniela Mack, soprano
Peter Grunberg, piano

Mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack comes from Buenos Aires, her home is now San
Francisco, and her future is in the great opera houses and recital halls
in the world.  Her Schwabacher Debut Recital today only confirmed what
her Merola Program appearances last year - especially in the title role
of "La cenerentola" - clearly indicated: she is a phenomenon.

Now a San Francisco Opera Center Adler Fellow, Mack has a rare, exciting
combination of assets: a rich, warm, bright voice, with just the right
amount of vibrato, great projection, effortless placement, flawless
diction in English, Spanish, German, and French, and instant, compelling
communication with the audience.  And, to boot, she presented an unusual,
excellent program for her recital in the acoustically treacherous Martin
Meyer Sanctuary of Temple Emanu-El, sounding equally well from up close
and - for the second half of the concert - from the top of the balcony.

She opened the recital with three fun-filled Rossini songs from "La
Regata Veneziana" - usually presented among encores - and switched gears
radically with four sorrowful Walter Rabl lieder; in the second half,
Mack sang Debussy's "Trois chansons de Bilitis," and songs by Carlos
Lopez Buchardo (1881-1948) and Carlos Guastavino (1912-2000).  The single
encore ("una mas!" she warned in advance) was "Can't Help Lovin' Dat
Man," from "Showboat." For a young artist, given a chance to shine in
her recital debut to put together such a program, and send the audience
out wanting more (the concert lasted less than 90 minutes, including a
25-minute intermission) showed self-confidence, the attitude of a singer
who is in charge.

At the heart of the recital were the Rabl songs, and their stunning
execution.  It's a mystery why the Viennese composer (who lived 1873a -
"1940, but wrote all his music before turning 30) is not a standard
staple of recitals.  The restrained yet deeply affecting drama of "Zu
Spet" (Too Late) is a perfect gem, utterly simple (about missed love and
joy), musically rich and complete.  Pianist Peter Grunberg and cellist
Thalia Moore sustained Mack's straight-arrow interpretation, the trio
creating a few minutes of total bliss.

No matter how sad the songs turned - "Vorbei!" (Missed!), about "departed
joy" and "faded roses"; "Spielmannslied" (Fiddler's Song), about dying
alone; "Soldatentod" (A Soldier's Death) - the mezzo kept it all quiet
and "real," raising her voice only for the soaring, heaven-storming
phrase of regret and rage: "it could have been so different!" With a
single exception ("hohen" for "hehen"), her German was clear and right.

And so it was with the French text when it came to Debussy, and "La
flute de Pan" (The Pan-Flute), "La Chevelure" (The Tresses), and "Le
tombeau des Naeades" (The Naiads' Tomb).  Once again, Mack's restraint,
"sangfroid," understated delivery was most impressive.  The Argentinian
songs represented merely "nice" against the mastery and depth of Rabl
and Debussy, but Mack's performance - warm, informal, unaffected -
elevated them to a higher level.

Audience-pleasing as the opening Rossini songs were, I had a problem
with what appeared to be the only instance of excess in Mack's performance
during an otherwise artistically restrained and mature concert.  Text
and music for Anzoleta (Before the Boat Race / As the Boats Pass By /
After the Race) are so charming, Mack's voice and presentation so beguiling
that the "come hither" looks and gestures just pushed the whole thing
over the top.  Less would have been sufficient.

Perhaps coincidentally, the only time Grunberg sounded a bit too much
was in the Rossini, while providing a spirited, picture-perfect accompaniment
otherwise all recital long, cutting up just right in the Jerome Kern
encore.

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

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