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Subject: Steven Blier starts off the Wolf Trap Opera with Four of a Kind (6/4/17)
From: Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 5 Jun 2017 17:15:56 -0400

text/plain (51 lines)

Sunday afternoon, the illustrious Steven Blier returned to Wolf Trap with a program entitled "Four of a Kind" which he explained had four singers, music from four countries and many selections with four hands.

He started off with a fiery Slavonic Dance No. 1 by Dvorak where he was seated with pianist Joseph Li, and I was literally right behind the two of them. They were all over the place and really getting into the music; the beginning of an amazing program for sure!

The four singers were soprano Madison Leonard, mezzo Annie Rosen, tenor Jonas Hacker and baritone Michael J. Hawk, who was the first ever Studio Artist (the younger apprentices which sing smaller roles and make up the choruses as well) to be lucky enough to sing at one of Mr. Blier's programs!  They all sand selections from Brahms's Liebeslieder Waltzes (Nos. 1/6/13/14/15/17/18) in a setting that was staged by Tammy Babich in a way to tell a story of four lovers.

The German section was followed by French, but with a Scaramouche:Brasileira from Darius Milhaud to start off for the four hands. Another brilliant virtuoso piece that had us all almost dancing.

Mr. Hawk sang the first two French songs by Poulenc, "La grenouillere" & "Vous n'ecrivez plus?"

Ms. Leonard gave us Milhaud's "A Cupidon" followed by Ms. Rosen with Charles Trenet;s "Le soleil et la lune" which blew me away with her adorable characterizations. Mr. HAcker was the last solo with Poulenc's "Tu vois le feu du soir" followed by the ensemble singing Milhaud's "Caramel mou" which Mr. Blier is explained is not about caramel or even "soft caramel," in this quite confusing text by Jean Cocteau which they staged brilliantly.

The Argentina section after the break began with another fiery four hand piece, Piazzolla's "Fuga y misterio," which was followed by more luscious Latin music:

Carlos Lopez-Buchardo (Mr. Blier always presents wonderful rare works) "Querendona" sung by Ms. Rosen,

two Guastavino works: "Abismo de sed" for Mr. Hawk, Anhelo for Ms. Leonard and finally the luscious "Los pajaros perdidos" by Piazzolla for Mr. Hacker.

Again we had a duet for four hands and the entire finale section was Gershwin.

"Bess, You Is My WOman Now" arranged by Percy Granger got us off to another rousing start followed by many rarities including

"Hi-Ho" (dropped from the film Shall We Dance) sung by Mr. Hawk.

Mr. HAcker melted us with "Ask Me Again" which Mr. Blier says may be his favorite song, and I can understand why.

Ms. Leonard sand the almost silly "My Cousin in Milwaukee" with Ms. Rosen singing "Till Then" before the ensemble ended with "Love is Sweeping the Country" from Of Thee I Sing.

Of course there was an encore in the form of Cole Porter's "What Shall I Do?"

What a delightful and educational afternoon as Mr. Blier's concerts always are.

ALAN SAVADA of Washington, DC

ALAN SAVADA of Washington, DC

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