Glenn Hersch, Vocalist & Oksana Lutsyshyn, Piano
Sunday, November 16, 2003

      This recital had been in the planning for the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church's music series for a year now and it was a fine musical experience.

      Our vocalist explained that he planned a program of music he knows and enjoys to share with us. He opened with Giancarlo Menotti's Bob's Aria from the opera The Old Maid and the Thief. In this piece I pegged him as an Irish tenor. However his next selections by Franz Schubert were in the baritone vocal range. He explained "I do the song where it is most comfortable for my voice." He selected one song from each of Schubert's cycles: Mein! from Die Schöne Müllerin , Standchen from Schwanengesang and Die Post from Winterreise He demonstrated how he can marshall his vocal resources to make each song work well for him. He explained the story of each song before he sang it in German.

      Three songs by Ralph Vaughn Williams followed. Bright is the Ring of Words from a cycle titled Songs of Travel. In The Water Mill the text paints the scene of the miller, his cat, his wife, the garden, the clock in the house, which counts the rhythms of daily life. In the evening suitors pursue the miller's daughter but she doesn't yet know whom to accept.

      In the last very short song Oh, When I Was in Love with You from the cycle On Wenlock Edge, love came, burned-out and there is no more to be sung. The first half closed with Valentin's farewell to his sister Marguerite from Charles Gounod's Faust, Avant de quitter ces lieux.

      After intermission we were treated to a medley of songs from West Side Story, music by Bernstein and words by Sondheim, Maria, Tonight, Make of Our Hearts One Heart and There's a Place for Us. He followed these with selections from Finian's Rainbow (music by Burton Lane and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg). According to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Finian's Rainbow is "considered one of the best musicals of the century." Our vocalist tried-out for the part of Woody his senior year in college with the St. Louis Opera and sang for us If This Isn't Love and Old Devil Moon. His ability as a crooner came through and he glowed in the audience's warm response. Mr. Hersch's acting ability came into focus as he sang When I'm Not Near the Girl I Love and he created the role of the Leprechaun who dances and sang "I love the girl I'm with when I can't be with the girl I love." The final set was from Show Boat (music by Hammerstein and lyrics by Kern), Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man (requested by his wife) and You are Love which he sang to his wife.

      The encore was Aaron Copland's setting of Simple Gifts which segued into Happy Birthday to Bill Wagner who was co-host for the evening's reception, only to end on the final chord by Copland.

      Recitals by male voices are rare in our area and Mr. Hersch's full vocal sound was exciting to hear. Long may he sing!

Tanya Anisimova, cello & Oksana Lutsyshyn, piano

      With Oksana Lutsyshyn as Director of Music, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church is becoming a powerhouse for presentations of high quality music in our area. On Sunday, October 26, 2003, Tanya Anisimova, a cellist of profound depth and superb musicianship, presented a program of chamber works with Ms. Lutsyshyn at the piano.

      In conversation, Ms. Anisimova commented on how the first notes from the Bach Prelude from Suite #4 had sounded so alive in the barrel-vaulted acoustic space of the sanctuary. My notes for this read "Bach in a neighborhood Lutheran Church seems so right as the sound cleaves the space, empty of sound until that moment. It warmed my heart."

      Her intimate and introspective approach to her cello and especially to the music of Bach makes each experience of hearing her play deeply satisfying.

      She closed the opening set with a composition of her own inspired by viewing a painting by Rembrandt (Parable of the Prodigal Son) while on a recent visit to St. Petersburg, Russia. This exciting music improvised under the spell of Bach but with modern explorations ended with a vocalese by the cellist.

      Ms. Lutsyshyn on piano joined Ms. Anisimova in her transcription of Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata, originally written for violin and piano. Cesar Franck's (1822-1890) Sonata for Cello and Piano in A Major and Pablo De Sarasate's (1844-1908) Ziguenerweisen, Op. 20, No.1 completed a full chamber program.

      Catherine Smith, who is writing a book on artistic creativity and spirituality in women, has agreed to let us share some her writings about this recital.

           "Never have I been so moved by live music-literally MOVED."

           "Her personal beauty is quiet and understated, her dark hair gathered into a single braid, her dress a simple, sleeveless, long black velvet, her face of fair complexion and innocent of makeup. Tabula rasa, really, but only when she is not playing, for the way feelings flicker across her face as she plays is like an aerial searchlight illuminating inner space."

           "I have always loved the 'Kreutzer', but never as much as now, hearing it played on the cello which, I have concluded, is my "soul instrument." In parts, I became so exhilarated, I could hardly keep my seat! And with the Cesar Franck, in addition to the enjoyment of the sheer range of sound in this romantic/early modern piece came the rare privilege to watch a musician at close range making love out of music."

           "I have not seen the painting but know well the story of the Prodigal Son. And with the vibrating of the strings, I seemed to be hearing the son, the father, the brother 'singing' his part. Toward the end came a musical sound wholly unexpected, a human voice-- her voice--now in duet with the cello, an ululation serving to deepen the pathos of the moment."

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