Monday, 14 April 2014

QUAND JE DORS / JEONG AE REE Vocal Recital with MIYUKI WASHIMIYA, Piano / Review

Esplanade Recital Studio
Friday (11 April 2014)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 14 April 2014 with the title "Alluring Jeong captivates in six languages".

The Korean soprano Jeong Ae Ree is arguably the most in-demand voice teacher in Singapore today. Her students and opera company New Opera Singapore have increasingly been distinguishing themselves in competitions and productions in recent years. As a performer, she commands the stage with a physical presence and vocal allure that is hard to resist.

Despite possessing a petite built, she projects herself well and exudes an intimacy that is wholly appropriate, even desirable, in the field of art songs. This 80 minute recital saw her singing in six different languages. Opening with the well-known Irish song Tis The Last Rose of Summer, Jeong weaved a seamless web of beauty in its immortal melody. Even if one was not always able to follow the words, projected surtitles in English were a great help.

French was next in the titular Quand de dors (When You Sleep), one of Franz Liszt’s most famous chansons. Allied with his equally lyrical settings of Petrarch sonnets, this languorous nocturne on the poet’s love for Laura was to find a most sensual outlet in this performance.

German was represented by Franz Schubert’s extended lied Der Hirt auf dem Felsen (The Shepherd on the Rock). Guest Japanese clarinettist Aya Sugimoto made the most of its virtuoso obbligato part, her effusive outpourings – first ruminative and later joyous – was echoed by Jeong in this lovely interplay of three seemingly disparate voices.

Manuel de Falla’s Seven Popular Spanish Songs was a whistle-stop tour of songs and dances from different regions of Iberia, one which allowed Jeong the greatest freedom to express a full gamut of moods and emotions. From lullaby to lament, subdued to dramatic, the piquant and fiery colours of the land were fully explored.

Japanese pianist Miyuki Washimiya, concert presenter Kris Foundation’s resident pianist, provided sensitive accompaniment in a partnership of equals. She too garnered the spotlight in two solos by Debussy, the brief and sanguine Girl with the Flaxen Hair, and closing with a big splash of sonorous chords in L’Isle Joyeuse (The Happy Island).

Two Korean songs saw Jeong basking back in her homeland. Both Hyun Je Myung’s Lady in Spring and Na Un Young’s Moon Night were Western-influenced in idiom, the former resembling Schubert’s Heidenröslein while the latter had echoes in Stephen Foster’s Beautiful Dreamer. The two Chinese songs – the familiar Molihua (Jasmines) and the affirmative Na Jiu Shi Wo (That Is Me) - could claim more authenticity.

The second song was unaccompanied, and despite a microsecond lapse in concentration, greeted with the loudest applause. Her encore, a tipsy drinking song from Offenbach’s La Perichole, had the audience in stitches. The captivating reach of Jeong’s voice and personality was always going to be a winner.

The three performers receive their accolades
with concert presenter Kris Tan.

From L to R: Ng Pei Sian, Chan Wei Shing, Jeong Ae Ree,
Kris Tan, Miyuki Washimiya & Aya Sugimoto.

All photos by courtesy of Chrisppics+

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