El Paso Society for Musicians of the Future
Grace Cloutier, Harp, and Friends
(Grace Cloutier Website)
Grace Cloutier on Harp
Guest Artists on Piano, Solo Song, Cello,
Choral, Violin, Flute, Viola
Weill Recital Hall
(Carnegie Hall Website)
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 22, 2014 afternoon
B. Andrès: Danse d’Automne, No. 2
M. Grandjany: Aria in Classic Style
H. Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, I. Aria (Cantilena)
G. Puccini: “Chi il bel sogno”, from La Rondine, Act I
Traditional Japanese: Sakura, Sakura
L. Cohen: Hallelujah
G. Holst: Hymns from the Rig Veda
D. Lefkowitz: Love Fragments
M. Robinson: Fate
E. Elgar: Sea Pictures
M. Glinka: Nocturne
On a lovely late spring Sunday, harpist Grace Cloutier brought an eclectic and engaging ensemble to Weill Hall. Ms. Cloutier frequently thanked her audience of friends, fans, and music aficionados, for taking time on a June Sunday to share this musical experience. The Andrès Danse d’Automne, No. 2, was an exotic harp solo, with Ms. Cloutier showing the audience her abundant mastery of her beautiful blond and black wooden harp, with embossed designs and rich tonality. She used some rhythmic wood effects to highlight the tempo, and the dance motif was obvious. David Enlow, on piano, joined Ms. Cloutier for Grandjany’s Aria in Classic Style, played like a lullaby, with each instrument taking romantic interludes, between merging thematic lushness. The Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brasileiras, No. 5, I Aria (Cantilena) brought out Laura Metcalf, on cello, and Jennifer Black, a soprano. One could immediately absorb the professionalism and quality of this concert, at this point in the program, with attention to nuance and detail of this work. The piece is mostly atonal and foreboding, with a final humming passage for Ms. Black, who held notes, endlessly. Ms. Cloutier brings out warmth and vibrancy on her gorgeous harp, with sensitivity and compelling focus. Ms. Metcalf’s cello was replete with deep string tones.
Ms. Black returned solo with Ms. Cloutier for Puccini’s “Chi il bel sogno”, from La Rondine, Act I. The lilting aria was expressed with Ms. Black’s poignant vocals, supported and enhanced by Ms. Cloutier on harp. Sakura, Sakura, a traditional Japanese tune, one often heard in concert and cultural media, was presented by Ms. Cloutier, along with Haley Rempel on flute. This piece is mysterious, mystical, and magnetic, and both artists made it sing. L. Cohen’s Hallelujah was sung by Toni Dolce, soprano, joined by Ms. Cloutier, who always remained onstage. This was a folk styled tune, with repetitive refrains, and one notable effect was Ms. Cloutier’s letting notes drop in key, while vibrating in space. Only a pro could create such fascinating tonality. Next, the Etherea Vocal Ensemble, of seven women and one man, all in formal black attire (all today’s artists were elegantly dressed to impress), came out for Holst’s Hymns from the Rig Veda (Third Group). Four hymns were often sung at a merging whisper, ethereal as the group’s name. Harp strings and vocals fluttered like feathers for this dissonant, mesmerizing work.
After intermission, the D. Lefkowitz premiere was performed, with swooning Asian effects woven within. Rebecca Ringle, soprano, and Jessica Meyer, on viola, joined Ms. Cloutier for this piece that’s based on texts from Shakespeare, Desnos, and Pushkin. It was contemporary, with atonal, exotic passages, as well as melodramatic ornamentations. One striking effect was for Ms. Ringle and Ms. Meyer to suddenly turn to face one another, performing on either side of the stage, sideways. The Robinson piece, Fate, brought out Sarah Whitney on violin and Ms. Metcalf again on cello. This work had a soothing, filmatic theme, performed with theatricality. Both Ms. Robinson and Mr. Lefkowitz were in today’s audience and took bows at the end of their compositions. Elgar’s Sea Pictures introduced yet two more artists, Nigel Potts on piano and Sarah Rose Taylor, mezzo-soprano. This melancholy work told a story with lilting musicality, balletic in rhythm. Ms. Cloutier’s final work was a solo, Glinka’s Nocturne, nurturing and romantic. Once again, Ms. Cloutier greeted and thanked her colleagues and audience, as well as the Argosy Foundation and El Paso Society for Musicians of the Future. Standing accolades and an encore followed.