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La Scena Musicale Online Reviews and News / Critiques et Nouvelles


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Enthusiastic Audience greets Patricia Sonego Recital

By Joseph So October 2, 2001

Songs of Mozart, Bellini, Debussy, Faure
Michael Eisenberg, piano
St. James' Cathedral, Toronto
Friday, September 14, 2001

This concert is in some ways a reprise of the recital Sonego and Eisenberg gave at the Glenn Gould Studio on April 4th, 2000, with a very similar program of Mozart, Bellini, and Faure. The main difference is a group of Debussy here replacing the Barab songs. In my review of the previous concert, I noted that Ms. Sonego had a promising voice and stage presence that would benefit from further training and experience. This recital indeed shows that she has made progress since her last appearance. She demonstrated on this occasion a winning stage presence and a voice that has considerable potential.

The program is very well chosen to showcase her light soprano, which has a pleasing, warm quality, particularly in the middle voice. The selections are essentially "chestnuts" of the song repertoire, so much so that the audience applauded after each song, inappropriate in a serious liederabend. Perhaps because of nerves, the voice took on a fluttery vibrato in the beginning of the recital that robbed her high notes of ideal focus and pitch. Many pieces in the first group of Mozart were taken at a very brisk tempo that did not allow the songs to "breathe". The familiar An Chloe and Das Veilchen were sung with nice, gentle tone by Sonego, but Abendempfindung was much too rushed. The same can be said for Bellini' Malinconia, ninfa gentile. As beautiful as song as anything written, Eisenberg unwisely tried to turn the opening introduction into a piano solo, and his hurried tempo deprived the song of much of its lyricism. The best singing came in Dolente immagine di Fille mia, which found the soprano more relaxed, giving the opening phrases a lovely, hushed quality. Unfortunately, the piano playing was once again too emphatic – perhaps Gerald Moore's autobiography Am I Too Loud? should be required reading for all accompanists.

Much to the delight of the audience who had difficulty seeing the petite singer, Sonego began the second half by singing from a platform. The Debussy and Faure were sung with nice tone and generalized expression, but one wished for more textual nuance and a greater variety of tone colours. Chanson d'amour was nicely sung, and her pure tones were ideally suited to En Priere. For some unknown reason, members of the audience decided in the second half that it was open season for photos, resulting in annoying flash bulbs going off constantly. They should know better!

The evening concluded with two encores, Donna Anna's Non mi dir – minus the recitative, which showcased her coloratura, followed by Marie's aria from La Fille du Regiment.

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