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Eric Cutler - tenor / Bradley Moore piano

Wigmore Hall 29 March 2006

 

Faure Poeme d'un jour Op 21

Hahn 4 Melodies

Respighi Deita silvane

Muste Shadows of the Blues

Previn Four Songs

Barber Despite and Still Op 41

 

Variety is the spice of life, and this recital certainly provided as rich a concoction as one could wish for, all presented with relaxed aplomb by American tenor Eric Cutler. He has a warm and rounded voice with an exceptionally bright tone. He's accustomed to singing in those big US concert venues, so when he turned the volume up he really filled, but never overwhelmed, the Wigmore Hall then apparently just as effortlessly, he could switch to pianissimo high notes, floated out gently above our heads.

 

Faure's early cycle Poemes d'un jour , reflecting an unsuccessful courtship, was his starting point, very much in the French idiom even if not quite pronunciation perfect. Next an assorted group of songs by Reynaldo Hahn, written between 1890 and 1916. The piano plays a major part in Paysage mimicking the clear waters of the mill stream, most beguilingly played by Bradley Moore.

 

The first half of the concert ended with Respighi, whose orchestral tone poems are universally known. But he wrote just as effectively for the voice his operas get occasional outings in Italy , but his songs are a rare treat. The cycle Deita silvane is particularly worthy of attention as Rubino's poems are so descriptive of the woodlands and magic spirits, whilst Respighi's music paints in the flickering light and shadow, the stream whose sparkling presence laughs and ripples, the nymph dancing like fluttering leaves, until finally the long blue shadows that descend as Pan is revealed as a marble statue. Both singer and pianist really brought the scene alive.

 

The second half of the concert concentrated on American works. Firstly John Musto's subtle and elusive Shadows of the Blues surprisingly no date was given for their composition. Next was Andre Previn's Four Songs (2004) to poems by Philip Larkin and William Carlos Williams, slight but highly refined.

 

The best had been kept until last. Samuel Barber's cycle Despite and Still is a work of some complexity, which Eric Cutler and Bradley Moore appreciated and obviously enjoyed to the full. Whilst My Lizard is almost a bagatelle and Solitary hotel demands perfect timing for its humour, surrounding them are Robert Graves' deeply moving poems In the wilderness was almost heart-rending.

 

Let me give the last word to Bradley Moore, whose playing throughout the evening was acutely sensitive and communicative. He is also an Assistant Conductor for the Metropolitan Opera, but I hope this doesn't restrict his appearances on the concert platform.

 

Serena Fenwick

 

© Peter Grahame Woolf