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In performance: Kirkby, De Bique

In today's Washington Post: Emma Kirkby's delicate and delightful recital, by Joe Banno.

Web-only review:

Soprano De Bique debuts, needs work
by Cecelia Porter

The Young Concert Artists opened its 31st series at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater with soprano Jeanine De Bique in her Washington debut. The program challenged the singer to manage a balancing act with a motley assortment of styles: French chansons, German lieder, a Mozart concert aria in Italian. Songs in English by Charles Griffes and Lori Laitman and some British folksong arrangements by Alan Louis Smith ended Sunday's concert.
(read more after the jump)

Debussy's settings of Paul Verlaine's symbolist verses further intensify the poet's distilled imagery of the senses; De Bique captured the energy Debussy hides in single words. The most sensitively rendered of the Hugo Wolf lieder was "Er ist's," a study in boundless elation. She captured the emotional drive of Mozart's "Misera, dove son," a capsule-sized drama with an uncanny welding of operatic recitative and aria. Of the songs in English, De Bique moved agilely through Laitman's modestly tonal settings of Emily Dickinson's poetry. But the off-pitch accompaniment by Metropolitan Opera Orchestra's violist Ira Weller proved distracting.

All in all, De Bique has a promising career ahead of her with her dramatic presence and her versatility in tackling a dizzying array of styles. Nevertheless, she still has some work to do to prepare for such a prime time performance as Sunday's. Gaps between her highest notes and chest tones were uncomfortably audible. Her voice was too voluminous for the Terrace Theater, had a strident edge to it, and was often unstable in intonation, most noticeably in forte.

Pianist Keun-A Lee was supportive and pungent or subdued as the occasion demanded.

-- Cecelia Porter

By Anne Midgette  |  October 27, 2009; 6:02 AM ET
Categories:  local reviews  
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