Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Truth About Love...and the Usual Lies

Soprano Jessica Medoff, the fabulous Sorceress in Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas a year ago, showcased another side of her ability, weaving art songs and show tunes together, as she and her husband, the very talented pianist Michael Bunchman, presented a song cycle of their own on the inexhaustible subject of love. A highlight for me was Kurt Weill's "Surabaya Johnny," a hyper-passionate wail that can really take the measure of a singer; Ms. Medoff was all over that thing like a hungry lioness. "I Don't Care Much" from Cabaret was equally intense in a quieter way. To lighten the mood we had the very funny "Taylor the Latte Boy" together with its answer, "Taylor's Response" (sung artfully by Mr. Bunchman from the piano); the plaintively sweet "There's a Fine, Fine Line" from Avenue Q came across with understated sensitivity. The show also introduced audiences (at least semi-ignorant ones like me) to art songs by the likes of Aaron Copland and William Bolcom. One remarkable thing was the two performers' seamless connection; it's as if they can read each others' minds, piano and voice flowing together in perfect sympathy, and Ms. Medoff has a finely calibrated control, equally steady from pianissimo to fortissimo. The edifying and enjoyable program showed off her range without going overboard.

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