Thanks to the gods of Music for the internet! Time was when a guy like me who likes great music-making would get back to his desk right after a performance and pour out his thoughts onto a piece of paper via an IBM Selectric (yes, I know, some of us go that far back) or a sleek Olivetti (even farther back), and hammer away a quick and dirty review just in time for a midnight deadline.
The readers then had to wait for the next day papers to get hindsight reporting.
Well, no more! I can get home, have a cup of tea and calmly flesh out my thoughts into words with no deadline with which to deal.
Case in point: Amy Yekel‘s recital this afternoon here in Cincinnati, presented by the stalwart Wagner Society of Cincinnati, made possible by its fearless leader James Slouffman, with the protean Samuel Martin as her accompanist, presided over by the Queen City’s operatically omniscient guru Charles Parsons, and made even better by the acoustically superb ambience of the Ascension Episcopal Church in Wyoming.
Amy Yekel has a true dramatic soprano voice. But, where many a singer belonging to this Fach goes awry in that tricky netherworld of the larynx Italians call Secondo Passaggio (second passage) which for a soprano usually lies in the E, F, F# at the top of the treble staff, Amy Yekel sings unfazed.
In the case of Amy Yekel, I fail to hear any change of gears, any maneuvering tell-tale that signals “Careful, now!” Instead I hear a column of sound that pours out of this young soprano, even in volume, equal in timbre, with no trickery, no nonsense, no vocal posturing. Just great singing, if you please.
But that is all technical stuff and nothing to which the unsuspecting lover of vocal music should give any thought.
Instead, enjoy as I did, a journey through Russian and Czech songs, Duparc, Liszt’s Oh! Quand je dors!, sung in impeccable French, Strauss’ Widmung and a superb Befreit, and then, for the main course, several Wagner arias culminating in the Liebestod.
Again, at the risk of repeating myself, Ms. Yekel is not daunted by any technical hurdles: she spins out seemingly endless phrases, punctuating them with breath when the language demands it, passing up on the catch breaths that other singers depend on.
Sieglinde’s Der Männer sippe and Du bist der Lenz proved that Amy Yekel is a deeply-engaged storyteller who puts the sung word before any efforts to sound beautiful. But, in fact, she seems incapable of making an ugly sound, for even when she dips into a cavernous chest register, the sound remains pure and focused. Ms. Yekel forged ahead with Brunhilde’s third act narrative from Siegfried and Elisabeth’s Dich teure Halle, the latter capped with glorious above the staff singing.
The program ended with a wondrous Liebestod that was greeted with silence before the applause brought us back to Cincinnati at 4 pm.
Amy Yekel and her gifted and giving collaborator, pianist Samuel Martin came back for an encore: a comically antic ditty by Flanders and Swan that sent us all smiling home. We fervently hope these two artists come back for something more than just an encore.
Rafael de Acha