LSM-ONLINE-LOGO2JPG.jpg (4855 bytes)

La Scena Musicale Online Reviews and News / Critiques et Nouvelles

Visit La Scena Musicale Online Reviews. [Index] Critiques de La Scena Musicale Online

First Stage of the First Jeunesses Musicales Montreal International Competition in Voice

By Wah Keung Chan / May 30, 2002

The First Jeunesses Musicales Montreal International Competition in Voice began their three marathon days of semifinals on May 30th. 51 singers from 21 countries are slated to participate. La Scena Musicale will cover the semifinals and finals on our website. Here is the first installment. I will be giving my own grades in the category of Voice and Performance.

Visit for up-to-the moment installments.
Watch the semifinals live on webcast from Radio-Canada

Aaron Judisch, USA, baritone, 10:00 a.m.
Suzanne Goyette, piano

Handel: "Revenge, Timotheus cries" - Alexander's Feast
Poulenc: "Sanglots" - Banalités
Korngold: "Schneeglöckchen", "Nachtwanderer", "Ständchen" - Einfache Lieder
Britten: "Billy in the Darbies" - Billy Budd

First up was American Aaron Judisch in the Handel aria. Possessor of a strong well projected voice, Judisch has good stage presence. His tone is somewhat pressed in the allegro beginning. The aria section was infused with the necessary pathos. In the da capo, Judisch demonstrated that he has still not quite mastered the ability to sing fast or loud without pushing--it's close but a high note almost failed. English diction was excellent.

The Poulenc was generally well done. French diction was correct. Judisch was more at home in the Korngold set. He was more visually expressive and vocally more nuanced. The tesititura of these songs fitted his voice remarkably.

Judisch closed strongly with the Billy Budd soliloquy. A good legato emerged. I wondered if the second phrase was sung in tune. Some recit-like sections had questionable rhythms.

Vocal: 82, Performance: 80

Jonathan Carle, baritone, Canada

Mendelssohn: "Lord, God of Abraham" - Elijah
Wolf: "Heute Nacht erhob ich mich" - Italienische Liederbuch
Fauré: "Rencontre", "Toujours", "Adieux" - Poème d'un jour
Mozart: "Hai già vinta la causa!… Vedrò mentir'io sospiro" - Le Nozze di Figaro

Jonathan Carle, baritone
Marc-André Brouillard
Mendelssohn: Carle demonstrated a strong full-throat sound through the legato opening sequence. The resonance does not include any pharyngeal space. Musically, it did not leave much of an impression.

The extreme range of the Wolfe found Carle's high notes somewhat strained. The nerves of the competition might have been getting to him as he wiped the sweat off his brow..

Carle found more ease in the Fauré set. His soft tones were often unsupported, thus reducing their effectiveness. The Adieux was his best.

The Mozart aria demonstrated that opera is Carle's strong suit. In character and in operatic voice, Carle was convincing as the Barber.

In conclusion, a strong voice that still needs some finishing.

Vocal: 80, Performance: 75

Krisztina Szabó, mezzo, Canada
Esther Gonthier, piano

Mozart: "Laudamus te" - Mass in C minor
Bellini: "O, quante volte" - I Capuleti e i Montecchi
Schubert: "Litanei"
Bolcom: "Amor" — Cabaret Song

Krisztina Szabò
Marc-André Brouillard
Canadian Szabó exhibited a rich mezzo voice with a good legato and fine coloratura in the difficult Mozart oratorio aria. She was the first singer to show an even crescendo. Szabó was masterful in the Bellini recit and aria. It was almost spellbinding. The only remark is that her high notes sometimes thinned out at the end of a phrase.

After a quick sip of water, more lovely singing in the Schubert lied followed. Her soft notes were well supported and her embodiment of the song was outstanding.

Szabó closed the performance with the barnburner Amor by William Bolcom. I've heard this song done very well, but Szabó brought to it a real voice, by now a little breathy.

Vocal: 90, Performance: 90

Daesan No, baritone, Korea
Esther Gonthier, piano

Verdi: "L'Onore! Ladri" - Falstaff
Schubert: "An die Leier"
Handel: "The people that walked in darkness" - Messiah
Respighi: "Nebbie"

Daesan No
Marc-André Brouillard
No started with the Falstaff aria, a role he has already performed on stage. Strong high notes as well as a good bottom, No was convincing as the comic character.

In the Schubert, No showed that his instrument had the dynamic range for the art song, a confirmation of the Lieder prize he won at the 1999 Cardiff Singer of the World. No appropriately chose the slow baritone aria from Messiah that suits large voices like his. His reading of the piece was masterful, showing a clear concept of the line.

The dark Nebbie from Respighi suited No's sensitivity and sombre reading brought down the house.

Vocal: 93, Performance: 95

Obed Urena Hählen, baritone, Dominican Republic, Switzerland
Esther Gonthier, piano

Handel: "The trumpet shall sound" - Messiah
Mozart: "Hai già vinta la causa!… Vedrò mentir'io sospiro" - Le Nozze di Figaro
Turina: "Los dos miedos" - poema en forma de canciones
Schubert: "Erlkönig"

Obed Urena Hählen
Marc-André Brouillard
Urena Hählen began the Handel aria with a promising musical sensibility. His voice is something of an enigma. Often he began his notes softly, breathy, before switching to full voice which is at once ringing and strident. His sense of line and dynamic choices showed him to be quite a musician. English diction was very good, the pronunciation of "incorruptible" as "incorrupteeble" not withstanding.

The Mozart aria revealed less of those vocal inconsistencies while allowing the performer to shine. Urena Hählen was able to navigate the fast passages of the aria with gusto and capped the aria with a good high note that did not cut the line.

The touching Turina song further demonstrated the baritone's sensitivity. The performance closed with Schubert's masterpiece Erlkönig. Urena Hählen gave life to the three different voices of the song, using his face and hands to emphasize the drama. The audience gave their first spontaneous bravos of the day.

Voice: 88, Performance: 98

Maida Karisik, mezzo, Bosnia
Esther Gonthier, piano

Bach: "Erbarme dich" - St. Matthew Passion
Schubert: "Nachtviolen", "Erlkönig"
Barber: "Sure on this shining night" — Four Songs, opus 13
Massenet: "Werther! Werther!" - Werther

Maida Karisik
Marc-André Brouillard
At once a rich tone mezzo, Karisik's Bach aria showed that she can inject a fresh and moving interpretation into a classic work. Her masterful legato and even crescendo revealed a lovely voice in her range.

Karisik's approach to the Erlkönig was equally as effective. Her voice was more even than Urena, yet in this case Urena's theatric was just that much more entrancing.

Sure on this shining night demonstrated Karisik's strongest suit, the slow song requiring the utmost sense of legato.

Can she do opera? Absolutely. Her Werther aria was both musically and vocally convincing. Another spontaneous round of bravas from the audience greeting the artist.

Voice: 95, Performance: 96

Based on what we heard this morning, 4 of the 6 contestant could go on to the finals, thereby making this one of the most interesting competitions.

Stay tuned.

Visit La Scena Musicale Online Reviews. [Index] Critiques de La Scena Musicale Online

(c) La Scena Musicale 2000