Pene Pati and Ronny Michel Greenberg give a great recital in Cincinnati

Tenor Pene Pati returned to Cincinnati on Friday to sing again for Matinee Musicale, the ever young 108 year old musical treasure that continues to bring to the Queen City the best and brightest musical stars after a much needed year long hiatus.

The New Zealander tenor was partnered by the superb pianist Ronny Michael Greenberg, and together the two men presented one of the finest song recitals in recent memory.

Pene Pati is a fast rising lyric tenor no longer on the brink but in the midst of a major career. More often than not opera singers tend to deliver song recitals that come off more like strings of opera’ hits instead of purposeful explorations of the riches of song literature. In the case of the spectacularly gifted Pene Pati and the sterling Ronny Michael Greenberg the pair focused on selections of three melodies of Henri Duparc, and two songs of Sergei Rachmaninoff, balancing the seriousness of Duparc and Rachmaninoff with Gioacchino Rossini‘s La Danza and three Italian evergreens: Leoncavallo’s Matinata, and Tosti’s La Serenata and ‘A vucchella.

There was a Mozart rarity from Mitridate, re di Ponto, which would have come at the end of a vocally challenging, hour long program. It was prudently excised and substituted tongue-in-cheek with a Maori song that ends with a grimace that calls for the singer’s tongue to be stuck out. Throughout the program the artists’ seriousness of purpose was tempered with a warm casualness that won over the audience from the very start of the concert.

Two arias amply demonstrated the why and wherefore of Pati’s meteoric ascent to the top of his profession: Des Grieux’s Dream aria from Massenet’s Manon and Lensky’s soliloquy from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. In both Pati sang with plangent tone and a great command of the mezza-voce called for, only sparingly opening up into a full-out forte.

Pati is at the top of his game, equipped with a sizeable voice that rises easily above the staff with no sign of strain. His technique, musicianship and musicality are impeccable and so is his command of French, Italian and Russian.

Ronny Michael Greenberg is the ideal collaborative pianist, flexible and yet able to  state his musical viewpoints in the important introductions and interludes of the repertory that was heard this afternoon.

The Cincinnati audience loved the work of these two fine artists and let them know with a rousing ovation at the end.

The program will be repeated on Sunday at 3:00 pm.

Rafael de Acha All About the Arts