Pianist Elizabeth Schumann & Mezzo-Soprano Solmaaz Adeli
In a charming program called “Made in Vienna” the Aptos Keyboard Series yesterday afternoon in the Aptos home of Joseph and Maria Sekon presented a concert by mezzo-soprano Solmaaz Adeli and pianist Elizabeth Schumann. These two gifted musicians, based in the San Francisco area often perform together, as well as in larger ensembles.
Solmaaz Adeli has a strong connection to Austria, having studied at the Konservatorium für Musik und Dramatische Kunst in Vienna, the Operschule in Graz and attended classes at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. She is a familiar presence to central California audiences, and her performance on this occasion showed precisely why. Her bold dramatic voice has an unusually broad range of three octaves, and her supple agility throughout her vocal range made even the most difficult vocal passages sound quite easy. Especially impressive was her dynamic range from the softest most intimate pianissimo to the fullest forte climaxes, where her voice was always under control and always served the music. Adeli has superb dramatic skills so that her facial expressions and physical gestures always tended to complement her musical presentation in an effective way.
We heard an interesting program consisting of Haydn’s Arieanna a Naxos, three songs by Schubert and two songs by Brahms, plus an ending group of five songs by Korngold that were based on some of his highly regarded film scores. During this recital, Adeli’s mastery of the various styles covering the span from 1809 to 1947 was so complete it made it seem as though we were hearing not one vocalist but four.
Pianist Elizabeth Schumann was the Grand Prize Winner of the Carmel Music Society’s Piano Competition in 2007. Her presence in this recital, especially in the opening work, Arieanna a Naxos, by Haydn, was startling in its stylish attention to Classical performance practice and showed a dramatic intensity in its pristine clarity and attention to details. Equally comfortable in the Schubert, Brahms and Korngold, Schumann proved to be quite masterful in her handling of subtle colors and beautifully shaped phrases.
The five songs by Korngold, three with German text, and two in English, proved to the the most novel work on the program, for they were probably as unfamiliar to other members of the audience as they were to me. In the two ending songs with English text, Adeli’s pronunciation was crystal clear and especially effective.
Our hosts for this concert were Dr. Josef Sekon, Director of the Aptos Keyboard Series and his lovely and gracious wife, Maria. We were promised that there will be another Aptos Keyboard Series concert coming soon.