Reviewer Leslie Weisman wrote in DC Metro Theater Arts of “being drawn into Marina Tsvetaeva’s powerfully compelling poetry by way of Alexander Zhurbin’s deeply empathetic music” at the Russian Chamber Art Society’s season-opening concert, “Tsvetaeva,” on Oct. 12 at the Embassy of France...
More from Weisman’s review:
That the music was written by one of Russia’s most celebrated living composers and set to the verses of one of its greatest poets, whose voluminous works were written in the early to mid-twentieth century—and that this performance would be an American premiere—made it a decision that was not only comprehensible but well-nigh irresistible.
The opening cycle was performed with ravishing bravura and musicality and impeccable skill by mezzo-soprano Magdalena Wór, which supported the profound, almost palpable sense of empathy and comprehension with which she imbued each of its nine components.
"Snow Mounds Yielding” also offered a concordant reading by the two musicians, but here the tale being told, one that contemplates human vulnerability and nature’s knaveries, bore musical echoes of eighteenth-century ballads, with Wór’s voice rich, soft, and beautifully placed, her face expressive, the phrasing sensitive and intelligent. The next song offered reflections upon snow too, but “Snow Flakes Dream” is more a painful acknowledgment of the inevitability of human disillusionment. Here, the deft touch of Danchenko-Stern’s fingers on the upper-register keys conveyed the fragility of snowflakes and the frosty chill of icicles.
In the program’s second section, Love, comprising Zhurbin’s settings of poems written by Tsvetaeva and Mandelstam to each other, Wór was joined by baritone Timothy Mix and pianist Genadi Zagor
Repeating “Spindle” now in unison, their resentment perhaps feeding on itself, Tsvetaeva (Wór) and Mandelstam (Mix) bit off and spat out the words, looking daggers at each other, Zagor’s galloping fingers accompanying them in increasingly frenzied tempo as if the three characters—the piano as much of one as each of the singers—were fused together, and riding to hell.
In “Some Made of Clay” [in the third section], the music rolls like rhythmic waves that surge and crash upon the shore, at times edging into rock opera, while “The Night” was another exhilarating foray into singer-pianist synthesis, Wór and Zagor emotionally charged and musically linked—and equally invested in the dramatically ascending narrative arc.
A LOOK AT THE NEXT CONCERTS OF THE 2018-2019 SEASON
All concerts take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Embassy of France, 4101 Reservoir Road.
Thursday, December 6
Works by American and Russian composers will be performed by soprano Shelley Jackson, second-prize winner at the 2017 Maria Callas Grand Prix, baritone Kevin Wetzel, pianists Michael Sheppard and Vera Danchenko-Stern.
Friday, February 8
Songs by Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Kazakh and Russian composers will be performed by tenor Timur Bekbosunov, mezzo-soprano Monika Krajewska and pianist Genadi Zagor.
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