Report on Student Half Recital by Melissa Hight

I attended the Student Half Recital by Melissa Hight on the 3rd of November.  The program was conducted at the Mathes Hall Auditorium at 3pm. It was one of the rare occasions where I had the pleasure of enjoying classical vocal music. The solo vocalist Melissa Hight and pianist Dr. Jessica Keup brought their experience and expertise to bear on the performance.  The whole program can be roughly divided into five sections.

The first section began with Mozart’s delightfully romantic song Oiseaux, si tous les an. It was given a mellifluous rendition by Mellissa Hight, who was suitably complemented by Keup at the piano. One of the features of the song is its strong lyricism. The song begins as a quiet tribute to nature in the first verse.  It then expresses more passionate feelings in the second verse, all the while keeping the same melodic line.  The duo on stage did justice to the demands of this masterpiece from Mozart.

The second item in the repertoire is Mozart’s Chi sa, Chi sa, qual sia. It was written as an aria for soprano and orchestra and places versetile demands on the vocalist.  Hight rises to the challenge and creates a sinuous change in mood through the song. The music was set to the words of Italian poet da Ponte and hence requires a mastery of the language’s unique phonetics. (Katz et. al, 1987) Hight makes this linguistic transition with ease.  The aria begins with a catch melody line that momentarily mellows during the middle section before gathering excitement toward the end of the piece.

The next section in the performance began with Hugo Wolf’s song Verborgenheit. The late romantic style of this song offers a contrast to the classical style of Mozart’s.  It is a very soothing piece that is rendered with competence by Hight. The other two items in this section were Richard Strauss’ Allerseelen and Fanny Hensel’s Neue Liebe, neues Leben.

The third section is chronologically misplaced as it presents JS Bach’s Seuftzer, Thranen, Kummer, Noth from Cantata No. 21. This sudden shift to the earlier Baroque music era actually helped highlight the unique feature of the genre. This piece demonstrates the technical mastery and virtuosity of the cantata form by a young JS Bach. (Cook, 1992) The composition is also an illustration of contrapuntal technique.  Hight and Keup work in wonderful coordination to render this masterpiece. The mood in this piece is solemn and contemplative.  The introduction of Oboe in this section adds more color to the listening experience. This piece not only brings out the rich musical texture of the Baroque aesthetic but also the profound religious expressivity of the Cantata form.

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