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Engulfing Vision

A concert at New York City's Hunter College,
reviewed by MARIA NOCKIN


On 22 May 2006, soprano Susan Marie Pierson, tenor Marc Deaton and trumpeter Sandra Coffin, accompanied by pianist Michael Fennelly, gave a recital of modern music in the Kaye Playhouse at New York City's Hunter College. The program opened with the world première of Captivity, a song cycle composed by Lori Laitman who is best known for her opera Come to me in Dreams (reviewed in Opera Japonica, where it can be found in the archive for 2004).

Lori Laitman. Photo © Devon Cass
Lori Laitman. Photo © Devon Cass

Captivity is a work for soprano and trumpet set to selected poems from Toi Derricotte's book of the same name. Laitman's music added to the emotional impact of the verses and she provided many intriguing harmonies. Sandra Coffin played with admirable precision and produced some remarkably luminous sonorities. Thus, one wonders if the addition of a piano part would have made it possible to write more virtuosity into the trumpet line for this excellent musician.

Susan Marie Pierson with trumpeter Sandra Coffin. Photo © Lisa Kohler
Susan Marie Pierson with trumpeter Sandra Coffin. Photo © Lisa Kohler

With superb diction and a full palette of vocal colors, Pierson created finely detailed sound pictures throughout the evening. When she sang Captivity, her burnished tones emphasized its varied images: daylight shining on the luxurious fur of doomed minks, a light skinned African American grandmother and grandchild at the Saks perfume counter, the story-laden books in a library, the men polishing Georgetown's brass knobs and, finally, the poet's hard working family members who longed to be valued and rewarded. Of the five songs, it is 'Books' that most succinctly combines words and music to form a whole that exceeds the sum of its parts. Although Captivity does not quite reach perfection, it certainly is an interesting song cycle.

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Copyright © 6 June 2006 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA


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