Soprano, Pianist Intense Together

Posted: December 06, 1994

Soprano Benita Valente and pianist Cynthia Raim have been performing Spanish programs on tour, and they extracted four unusual samples from their repertoire for a recital Sunday at the Convention Center.

The songs were from Cancionero de Pedrell by Roberto Gerhard, the Swiss- born composer who studied in Barcelona and pulled on Catalonian identity like a sweater. Three of the songs were in Catalan; one was in Spanish, and all featured the composer's approach of enlarging rhythms as the songs develop.

The performers began the second half with the Gerhard songs, coming to them at the optimum moment. The soprano's voice was moving well, and singer and pianist together infused the pieces with rhythmic fire and melodic flow.

However intriguing these songs may have been, it was the dozen songs from Hugo Wolf's Italienisches Liederbuch that best summarized these performers' work together. Their collaboration was intense and unshakeable, far above the singer-and-accompanist norm. The suggestion and response in their performance created vivid small scenes, full of shifting colors and levels of emotion.

The seriousness of the songs was abruptly lightened by the song, "Wie lange schon," in which the singer's innocent talk of her lover was followed by the pianist's comic imitation of her lover's musical ability.

Their program included four songs by Schubert, selections from Debussy's Ariettes oubliees and Brahms' Zigeunerlieder. Valente and Raim's ability to move from style to style and mood to mood gave each group distinctive color and weight. Songs by Schumann and Obradors were done as encores.

No additional performances are scheduled for any of the music events in these reviews.

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