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Music for All Seasons Delightful

Mary Ellyn Hutton
Posted: Oct 14, 2014 - 12:05:14 PM in reviews_2014

Peterloon Estate
There is no more gracious or deserving arts program in Cincinnati than Music for All Seasons, a recital series held four times a year at Peterloon Estate in Indian Hill.

Now in its second season, Music for All Seasons highlights early career and entry level professionals from the Cincinnati area. Endowed by Rafael and Kimberly de Acha, who are also its artistic directors, the event benefits the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. All proceeds go to support scholarship programs at CCM. Concerts take place on Sunday afternoons, followed by tea, coffee and pastries for all.

The 2014-2015 series opened Sunday afternoon in the wood-paneled, acoustically welcoming living room at Peterloon with Songs from Austria and Germany.

Heard were songs by Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Richard Strauss and Friedrich von Flotow, performed by students and graduates of CCM, joined in several numbers by CCM professor emeritus of piano, Frank Weinstock. There were concert arias, opera arias, duets and a wealth of lieder, accompanied by piano and other instruments.

Participants included sopranos Cindy Candelaria and Anneliese Dwonczik, mezzo-soprano Paulina Villareal, tenor Pedro Andre Arroyo, pianist Rachel Kay Zapata, clarinetist Jeff O’Flynn, violist Althea Kearney, cellist Carmine Miranda, plus Weinstock.

Soprano Candelaria and tenor Arroyo got some of the program’s most “theatrical” moments, Candelaria in works by Mozart, and the two together in a pair of delightful duets by Schumann. Soprano Dwonczik and mezzo Villareal performed canonic works by Schubert, Brahms and Strauss, with Candelaria and Arroyo adding popular arias from Flotow’s “Martha.” All in all, it made for a thoroughly enjoyable musical experience – and one to marvel again at the excellence of the talent represented by CCM.

Candelaria is gifted with a bright, incisive voice and expressive delivery, as she demonstrated in her opening set by Mozart: the concert aria “Alma grande e nobil core,” K. 578, the song “Als Luise, die Briefe,” K. 520 and “Porgi amor” from his opera “The Marriage of Figaro,” all with skillful accompaniment by pianist Zapata. She filled the room with indignation in the first (singing, in effect, “He doesn’t deserve me,” she explained in pre-performance remarks). She projected anger as well as yearning in the second, where the singer tears up letters from her faithless lover, and deep sorrow in “Porgi amor,” where Countess Almaviva laments her husband’s roving eye.

Soprano Dwonczik’s smooth, satiny voice blended beautifully with the clarinet, performed with great artistry by O’Flynn in Schubert’s “Der Hirt auf dem Felsen” (“The Shepherd on the Rock,” last song Schubert wrote before dying tragically at the age of 31). The two, accompanied by Weinstock, brought the song -- initially one of desolation and longing -- to its final moments of elation (“Der Frühling verkommen,” “Spring comes”) with great success.

Arroyo and Candelaria, with Zapata on piano, presented four duets by Schumann, two of them complementary, “Unterm Fenster” and “Liebhabers Ständchen,” both about an ardent lover knocking on a girl’s door and -- ultimately and emphatically -- being denied entrance (“Nein, nein Ich offne nicht!”). Arroyo – possessor of a voice with real heft -- sang the former on his knees for added effect. Candelaria began the lovely “In der Nacht” about lost love, joined in duet by Arroyo. In “Er und Sie” they sang meltingly of mutual love.

Villareal lent her creamy, comely mezzo to Brahms’ Op. 91 – “Gestillte Sehnsucht” and “Geistliches Wiegenlied” – with Weinstock and violist Kearney. Brahms’ images of agitation in the one and lullaby-like devotion in the other (the Virgin Mary’s cradle song) were effectively conveyed.

Then it was Arroyo’s turn, accompanied by Zapata, to give voice to Richard Strauss’ Op. 27, a set of four love songs written as a wedding gift for his wife Pauline. He displayed winning luster in “Ruhe mein Seele!” (“Rest, my soul”) and ardent delivery in both “Cäcilie” and “Heimliche Aufforderung,” signaling that he is a coming heldentenor to contend with (Arroyo participates in the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions this month).

In Strauss’ wonderful “Morgen!” (Op. 27, No. 4), Arroyo was joined by the likewise up-and-coming cellist Carmine Miranda for a moving and lustrous reading.

To conclude the program, Candelaria and Arroyo each sang an excerpt from Flotow’s “Martha.” Her “Last Rose of Summer” glowed with warmth,” while his “Ach so fromm” (Lyonel’s aria, “M’appari tutt’amor” in Italian) soared.

Responding to the audience’s enthusiastic ovation, Candelaria, Villareal and Zapata offered an encore, the touching “Evening Prayer” from Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel.”

The company assembled for refreshments in the dining room next door, no doubt anticipating the next recital in the series, a program of classical and traditional music for the holidays on Dec. 7.

Rounding out the season will a cabaret concert featuring songs of Richard Rodgers on Feb. 15, and Songs from the British Isles (Dowland, Purcell, Handel, Britten, etc.) April 12. All concerts are Sundays at 3 p.m. at Peterloon Estate, 8605 Hopewell Rd. in Indian Hill. (Built in 1928, Peterloon is the historic home of Cincinnati developer and arts patron John J. Emery and his wife Irene.)

Information and tickets at www.musicforallseasonscincinnati.com All proceeds benefit CCM scholarship programs.