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Chamber
BRAHMS-ERA TRIOS HIGHLIGHT OAKMONT CHAMBER CONCERT
by Nicholas Xelenis
Thursday, May 5, 2022
Chamber
CHAMBER GEMS OF BRAHMS IN TRIO NAVARRO'S SCHROEDER CONCERT
by Judy Walker
Sunday, May 1, 2022
Chamber
DISPARATE TRIOS IN HOLLYWOOD PIANO TRIO'S 222 CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 2, 2022
Chamber
TANGO IMMERSION IN MILL VALLEY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 27, 2022
Chamber
STERLING PELED-POLERA SHOSTAKOVICH IN REDWOOD ARTS RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 11, 2022
Chamber
DYNAMIC TRIOS AT HORSZOWSKI MILL VALLEY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 27, 2022
Chamber
THE LINCOLN RETURNS WITH CLARKE'S PUNGENT TRIO
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, November 18, 2021
Chamber
THRILLING PIANO QUINTETS IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Chamber
MUSCULAR BRAHMS FROM IVES COLLECTIVE IN GLASER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Chamber
SPARKLING WIND, STRING, HARP MUSIC AT DEVON HOUSE GARDEN CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, October 9, 2021
CHAMBER REVIEW
Valley of the Moon Music Festival / Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Kyle Stegall, tenor; Eric Zivian, piano

Tenor Kyle Stegall

RARE LANG SONGS SPARKLE AT VOM FESTIVAL VIDEO RECITAL

by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Unexpected pleasures are often the best. Valley of the Moon Chamber Festival presented a such a pleasure last week-a July 21 recorded performance by tenor Kyle Stegall and pianist Eric Zivian in another mini-recital (very mini-just 15 minutes!) of six songs by the nineteenth century German composer Josephine Lang.

The music of Lang, a contemporary of Fanny (sister of Felix) Mendelssohn and Clara (wife of Robert) Schumann, is a find. In this century the works of many women who were composing in relative obscurity two centuries ago are now being rediscovered and brought to light. Ms. Lang was a prodigy who composed many dozens of lieder, piano, and chamber works and, like Clara and Fanny, her works were esteemed highly enough to be published and performed. But music historians either were not aware of Lang's output or simply excluded her from textbooks and anthologies because she was female, and didn't have a famous name. At any rate I had never heard of her as I should have, since she was a composer of outstanding art songs and chamber music.

Born in the year 1815 and active as pianist and composer beginning in her teens until her death in 1880, Lang composed these six songs between 1847 and 1860. Her work shows the same melodic and pianistic skills as her contemporaries, harmonic invention, text setting and accompaniments are all comparable to the best of the era. They are lovely songs, highly singable and accessible, with the expected lyricism and soulful ruminating on the beloved, full of melancholy desire, momentary joy, eternal woe and fresh yearnings. Lang's songs should be included in anthologies alongside all the other established and heretofore ignored women composers.

In this recital six well-chosen songs of contrasting nature were presented: "Abschied" ("Parting", 1847), Den Abschied schnell genommen" ("Parting taken quickly", 1848), "Namenlos" ("Nameless", 1847), "Im reinsten Gold" ("In purest gold", 1872), "Die Blumen sind alle verblüht" ("The flowers are all faded", 1872) and "Frühlingsglaube" ("Faith in Spring" 1860).

Without any exaggeration it can be said that Mr. Stegall and Mr. Zivian gave a definitive performance of these songs, sadly only via zoom, leaving me wishing for the in-person experience. Mr. Stegall's controlled yet lyrically soaring tenor and Mr. Zivian's electricity and sensitivity at the fortepiano transported us to what could have been an evening in Clara Schumann's salon.

Mr. Stegall's appears to have experienced some vocal settling and maturation since I first heard him two years ago. Technically very secure, he floated through the text-rich yet legato phrases, maintaining an intimate speaking-like quality throughout. Interpretatively his moods ranged from reverie-like to the poignantly desperate to brimming with joy as he contemplated the joys or pains of love, longing and separation, projecting the words with focused understanding and feeling. Lang's settings do not shy away from the upper register, and his top notes bloomed dramatically for a very fulfilling performance of these heady songs.

As always, Mr. Zivian's illuminations are a masterclass in collaborative piano. Every nuance is highlighted, every phrase perfectly shaped, every dynamic coaxed from the beautiful Rausch fortepiano. Personally he is magnetic, enthralling the audience with his listening and watching and bringing attention to every musical-emotional detail of poem and score.

One of the most important aspects of singing and playing art songs is the rigorous language requirement for professional singers and pianists who are non-native speakers. Correct and idiomatic pronunciation and meaning of not just one, but several European "singing" languages is daunting for many and translates into years of intense study and practice to get it right. That hard preparation and accomplishment was discernible here and duly appreciated.

The room setting for this recording is beautiful, but surprisingly there were some sound issues not present on the previous video performance of Beethoven and Brahms which was perfect.