Robin Redmon and Charles Woodward at Chandler Hall

      Robynne Redmon's recital at Old Dominion University's Chandler Hall on February 23, 2004 was wonderful. She stands and her whole person is quiet but once she begins to sing she is immediately emotionally available to her listeners.

      It is always a treat to hear Robynne Redmon's beautiful mezzo-soprano voice, especially in new repertory. With the excellent Virginia Chamber Players she sang the chamber version of Luciano Berio's (1925-2003) Folk Songs. The eleven arrangements are drawn from European folk songs and two folk-like songs from Kentucky by John Jacob Niles: Black is the Color and I Wonder as I Wander, which opens the piece. Beverly Kane Baker's viola solo between verses in Blacků was especially fine. The source for the other songs included Armenia, France, Sicily, Sardinia, Azerbaijan and Italy. Actually the Italian songs were written by Berio himself for his student Cathy Berberian in 1949.

      Berio, who died last year, was born in Milan, Italy, but lived in the U.S. from 1945 to 1971 and married the American singer Cathy Berberian in 1950. She was well-known as an interpreter of modern vocal music and he did this piece for her. It was premiered in 1964, the year their marriage ended. The colorful musical settings enhance the experience of these folk tunes, several of which are familiar in other settings, some of which I prefer. John Dixon's setting of I wonder as I wander is a case in point, reviewed here in January.

      Each hall has its own acoustic and Chandler Recital Hall is a superb space, and so it was exciting to hear much of the same repertory we had heard in Williamsburg in this venue. Ms. Redmon and Mr. Woodward were equally reliable performers in both spaces and so a comparison was possible. Ms. Redmon repeated three sets of songs that she did at her Art Song of Williamsburg recital last fall. Maurice Ravel's (1875-1937) Cinq Melodies Populaires Greques are seven short songs which offer a challenge to singer and pianist and Charles Woodward at the piano was impressive throughout, especially in the solo piano in Jota.

      The other selections were Siete canciones populares Espanola by Manuel de Falla (1876-1946) and four selections by Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) from Des Knaben Wunderhorn.

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