Music and Vision homepage Jenna Orkin: Writer Wannabe Seeks Brush With Death - From the heights of greatness (the Juilliard School; musicians Rosalyn Tureck and Nadia Boulanger) via way-ward paths to the depths of wickedness these reminiscences will entertain and enlighten.

 

<<  -- 3 --  Kelly Ferjutz    THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS

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Juliane Banse was an appealing Gretchen, vulnerable yet strong when required. Her lovely, large soprano voice was yet delicate, as well as clear and concise, easily able to rise over the entire orchestra and chorus. Bass Alan Held was a robust Mephistopheles, Evil Spirit and Father Seraphicus. He was able to inject a steely quality into his voice, making it easy to distinguish him from the others singing at the same time. John Tessier, tenor, was both Ariel (borrowed from Shakespeare's Tempest) and Father Ecstaticus. A sweet silvery quality exists in his voice, which at times was perhaps not quite as large as needed to ride over the combined musical forces in the background.

Soprano Lee Kathleen Taylor essayed two completely different parts: Worry (who blinds Faust) and the Young Angel who guides him to heaven. In the latter scene, which takes place in moonlight, she was pure radiance, and the hushed choral singing behind her was as translucent as a moonbeam. This was perhaps the most beautiful portion of the entire work, in no small part due to Schumann's extraordinary orchestration, which provided a very different sound to that of his usual technique.

Other soloists were Natasha Uspensky, soprano, as Distress and Magna Peccatrix; Kathryn Leemhuis, mezzo-soprano, as Marthe, Want and Mulier Samaritana; Katherine Lerner, contralto, as Guilt, Mater Gloriosa and Maria Aegyptiaca, and Curtis Streetman, bass, as Father Profundus. Soprano Sharon Shaffer and tenors Michael Sansoni and Andrew Owens assisted.

From left to right, Juliane Banse as Gretchen, Thomas Hampson as Faust and conductor Franz Welser-Möst in Severance Hall. Photo © 2006 Roger Mastroianni
From left to right, Juliane Banse as Gretchen, Thomas Hampson as Faust and conductor Franz Welser-Möst in Severance Hall. Photo © 2006 Roger Mastroianni

The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, with its impeccable diction and tremendous attention to dynamics was prepared by its director Robert Porco, while the Cleveland Orchestra Children's Chorus was readied by director Ann Usher. The Orchestra was -- as always -- splendid, with gorgeous solos from the various principals. What a marvelous extravaganza! According to Bartleby.com, the meaning of the old saying 'The devil is in the details' could be 'Even the grandest project depends on the success of the smallest components'. Mr Welser-Möst proved his point.

Copyright © 15 January 2006 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA

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The performance reviewed was on Thursday 12 January 2006 at Severance Hall, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Roger Mastroianni's photos were taken at the performance on 14 January. For tickets or information about upcoming concerts, call +1 (216) 231 1111, or visit the orchestra's web-site: www.clevelandorchestra.com

GOUNOD'S 'FAUST'

SCHNITTKE'S 'FAUST CANTATA'

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