Tenor Andrew Richards scores in American music,
by LAWRENCE BUDMEN
The vocal recital is one of the most demanding performance genres a singer can attempt.
Unlike the ornate theatricality of opera (where an artist is supported by a large cast,
scenery and costumes, and an orchestra) a vocal recital requires an artist to communicate
directly with an audience. The American tenor Andrew Richards passed the test with flying
colors at his concert on 14 August 2003 at Coral Gables Congregational Church,
Miami, Florida, USA.
This past April Richards was an ardent Rodolfo in Florida Grand Opera's production of
Puccini's La Bohème. He was even more impressive on this occasion. He has a large,
warm voice with clear, ringing high notes. His intonation is excellent and his voice is
vibrant and robust throughout the entire tenor range. (His singing is not compromised by
scooping or lack of vocal control -- problems that beset many young singers.) Richard's
singing is enhanced by excellent musicianship. He phrases and shapes the musical line
intelligently. His program combined familiar and less often performed songs -- perfect music
for a summer evening.
Richards was most impressive in a rhapsodic setting of Psalm 23 by the American composer
Paul Creston (1906-1985). While Creston is best known for his instrumental music, his vocal
literature deserves renewed attention. Richards sang Creston's music with thrilling power
and real fervor. Moreover he seemed to really connect with the English language text. While
Richards has built his career on nineteenth century Italian opera, he would be highly
impressive in the operas of Benjamin Britten. The title role of The Great Gatsby by
John Harbison (an excellent opera that both the Met and Lyric Opera of Chicago have
presented) would fit him like a glove. The complex and richly chromatic piano writing in the
Creston setting was played with panache by Sergio J Puig, the tenor's capable accompanist
for the evening.
Copyright © 21 August 2003
Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA