Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Anna Koor Vocal Recital: Review

ANNA KOOR, Mezzo-soprano
Tuesday (28 October 2008)
Esplanade Recital Studio
This review was published in The Straits Times on 3 November 2008.

The title of local mezzo-soprano Anna Koor's very demanding vocal recital comes from the song cycle in German (Frauenliebe und Leben) by Robert Schumann. In eight songs, Koor transcended a wide range of moods and emotions in the eventful course of a woman's love life. From the glow of youth, amorous tenderness, joy in motherhood to ultimate bereavement, this was an intimate and touching portrayal keenly felt by the performer, and well communicated to a receptive audience.

Her warm, well-schooled voice generated the volume necessary to surmount the challenges offered in Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer, better known in its orchestral version. Her projection within the confines of the Recital Studio was good, especially in the higher registers, ringing out in clearly enunciated German. Only in the third song Ich hab'ein gl├╝hen Messer (I Have A Gleaming Knife), was genuine terror and despair found in want. There was also some strain in the final song Dein zwei blauen Augen (Two Blind Eyes Of My Beloved); by now she had sung over 40 minutes with nary a rest in between.

Revitalised by the intermission, Koor found the right emotional temperature of three Rachmaninov songs, with the Russian romance In The Silence Of The Night reaching an ecstatic climax with aplomb. She was even better in three French songs in Spanish rhythm by de Falla, Ravel and Debussy. There was a beguiling and entrancing quality to the delivery of each of these that this pair of ears and eyes found particularly captivating.

Literally letting down her hair and armed with a black feather boa, Koor enjoyed further moments of aural decadence in four cabaret songs with W.H Auden's words set music by Benjamin Britten. In these, lounge music meets high art, with jazzy and popular idioms as the vehicle. Koor captured the mood with her gestures and slinking movements, but the vital ingredient - words delivered in quickfire succession - could have been better realised. A printed sheet of lyrics would have worked further marvels.

Through all this, veteran pianist-collaborator Shane Thio was the perfect and attentive partner, one who never overwhelmed and savoured every detail to be had. A short Spanish encore from Manuel de Falla completed this highly enjoyable after-eight soiree.

This vocal recital was presented by the Young Musicians Society.

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