The fourth section of the performance moves forward to the post Romantic era with a choice of C’est L’extase by Claude Debussy. This is yet another romantic song, full of longing and love. The song comes across as very modern through the implementation of triple-time pulse running through it. There is also irregularity of rhythm to capture the feelings of ecstasy that the song talks about. There is a strong sexual overtone to the song, which is subtly captured by Hight through her vocal modulations. This performance really stood out for the competence and craftsmanship of the two performers on stage. The next item in the fourth section is Reynaldo Hahn’s L’Heure Exquise. This shares some similarities with Debussy’s work in that the two composers were contemporaries and were operating within the same musical epoch.
The final section of the Student Half Recital began with Aaron Copland’s Pastorale. This is well into the modern era and the piece exemplifies the features typifying the era. This essence of this composition is one of celebrating the bounty of nature. (Johnson, 2002) Hence there is buoyancy and the spirit of vivacity evident in the piece. The rendition of Pastorale by Hight and Keup was very competent. Following this was Samuel Barber’s Solitary Hotel. The mood was relaxed and a touch nostalgic. There is an underlying theme of melancholy which the vocal dexterity of Hight succeeds in showcasing. The final piece of the Recital was Charles Ives’ Memories: A Very Pleasant, But Rather Sad. The work adopts a modern musical style both in terms of the musical structure and the subject.
In sum, I thoroughly enjoyed the Student Half Recital program. It introduced me to a rich variety of vocal music, starting from the Baroque era to the Modern era. The effortless transition of Melissa Hight from one language to another left me amazed. Her understanding of the subtleties of period specific language needs to be appreciated. I also learnt about the importance of coordination and synchronization beween the vocalist and accompanying instrumentalist. The manner in which the duo successfully pulled off several challenging compositions suggested the numerous hours of practice that preceded the performance. That’s another lesson that I will carry from this concert – the virtue of practice. Overall, it was a near perfect performance that I was privileged to witness up close.
- Cook, Nicholas. Music, Imagination, and Culture. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1992.
- Johnson, Julian. Who Needs Classical Music? : Cultural Choice and Musical Value. New York: Oxford UP, 2002.
- Katz, Ruth, and Carl Dahlhaus, eds. Contemplating Music: Source Readings in the Aesthetics of Music. Vol. 4. New York: Pendragon, 1987.