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Three songs by Henri Duparc (1848-1933) were sweetly Gallic romantic ruminations. Richards brought full throated passion to Phidyle. The melting beauty of his pianissimos in Extase was striking. He brought operatic drama and lyrical beauty to Chanson triste. Richard's affinity for the French style suggests that French opera (Manon, Romeo and Juliet, Werther, etc) may well be in his future.

The Poema en Forma de Cançiones by Joaquin Turina (1882-1949) brought highly colorful music that came deep from within the Spanish soul. (The Spain of Federico Garcia Lorca and Manuel De Falla is close to the surface in these songs.) Turina was one of Spain's most striking and original composers. Although his musical output was modest, his vocal and instrumental music speaks in a highly personal voice. Richards brought vocal fire to the Flamenco tinged Cantares. Los dos Miedos was sung with wonderful tonal sweetness and beauty. Richards brought romantic ardor to Las Locas por Amor. There was vocal power and heft in his declamation of Nunca Olvida. Puig played with Latin fire in the opening 'Dedicatoria' and gave Richards fine support in this memorable song cycle.

The songs of Francesco Paolo Tosti (1846-1916) have long enchanted tenors. From Enrico Caruso and Beniamino Gigli to Giuseppe De Stefano, Luciano Pavarotti, and Jerry Hadley, Tosti's songs have graced many tenors' recital programs. Richards found the perfect soft tonal shadings for the lovely Ideale. The irresistible La Serenata was delivered in an extroverted operatic style. Richards captured the bittersweet Italianate passion of L'ultima Canzone. As an encore, Richards offered another Italian tenor chestnut -- Core 'ngrato. Here was more gorgeous vocalism -- the icing on the musical cake.

Andrew Richards offered an intelligently conceived program and fervent vocalism. He is clearly an important addition to the American tenor ranks. His future performances and expanding repertoire promise much for opera's future.

Copyright © 21 August 2003 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA


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