Jamie Barton Transfixes at Zankel Hall
Winner of the Prestigious Cardiff Singer of the World
By: Susan Hall - Feb 17, 2015
Jamie Barton, Mezzo-Soprano
Bradley Moore, Piano
Anne Martindale Williams, Cello
Joaquin Turina, Homenaje a Lope de Vega
Ernest Chausson, Le colibri, Hébé, Le temps des lilas
Franz Schubert, Der König in Thule, Gretchen am Spinnrade, Schiffers Klagelid, Rastlose Liebe
Jake Heggie, The Work at Hand, World Premier
Antonín DvoÅ™ák Gypsy Songs
New York, New York
February 17, 2015
Jamie Barton stops time through lyric transformations. She makes clear the power of music to do what is physically impossible. You can't raise the stakes much higher. as she transports us into unfamiliar worlds of sound and spirit which strike the heart.
She can also be very funny, billowing about in The Last Savage in Santa Fe. But on this night, she was more mellow, reflective, often sad. In her encores she gave two punches to the universe. And during her performance of DvoÅ™ák's Gypsy songs, her signature smile lit up the Hall.
Throughout the evening, Barton held us in stunned admiration. But she accomplishes much more than delight for the ear with her wide-ranging mezzo, which soars comfortably high and also into contralto depths. She is a natural, who has honed her talents without artifice.
Eli Jacobson, the superb New York critic, notes that Barton can sing in any language and get inside it. She completely inhabits a song. Probably why she won not only the big Cardiff Singer of the World award in 2013, but also the song prize. It is unusual for for a singer in many tongues to give the feeling and the color of each word and phrase in the languare. Native speakers often skim over the top of meaning. Yet, since song is a message in music, Barton's deep take reaches the listener directly.
So we had the soft lisp of Spanish, the delicate edges of French, the harsher consonants of German. The poetry of Laura J. Morefield which inspired the Heggie songs was song in beautiful English full of wide open vowels and lovely "l" words. And then the Czech. You somehow thought you knew the language in Barton's take without translating.
Heggie explained in notes that he had been asked to write for Williams of the Pittsburgh Symphony and Jamie Barton at about the same time. Bringing forward two crunching musical lines at once, we were treated to duos and dialogues between the voice and cello.
Heggie plunges more freely into dissonant yet satisfying harmonies in this song cycle. Perhaps a commitment to melody makes his work always accessible. Both Barton and Williams dove into the poetics.
Bradley Moore provided a steady pace and punctuated support on the piano.
From the interior songs of the delicate French composer Edward Chausson to the lusty gypsy songs of Anton Dvorak, Barton thrilled and chilled with her perfectly clear and comfortable voice. The two hymns she sung as encores capped the evening with joy.
I sing because I'm happy
I sing because I'm free
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches me.
This was Barton's Zankel debut. She is a consummate natural.