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Deepest levels of musical experience touched in Killian Hall

MIT CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY

Works by Beethoven, Saint-S"aens and

Shostakovich.

Killian Hall, May 8.

KENNETH GOODSON

Baritone, Senior recital,

With Laura Dahl, piano.

Works by Durante, Donizetti,

Schubert, Faur'e and Ravel.

Killian Hall, May 8.

By JONATHAN RICHMOND

ONLY RARELY is there a concert performance which leaves one quite helpless with astonishment; that touches the deepest levels of musical experience; which is rich with pungent emotional flavor; that has a completely natural sense of chamber ensemble; which is a joyous and renewing experience, at once intimately human and spiritually sublime.

Such a performance greeted the lucky audience who heard Chung-Pei Ma G, Joyce Wong G and Jee-Lian Yap '90 in Shostakovich's Trio for Violin, Cello andPiano, Op. 67 at the conclusion of yesterday afternoon's Killian Hall concert by the MIT Chamber Music Society. There was no need to attend to the technical level of performance: it was so accomplished, one heard only the musical message that technique exists to transmit. And that message overwhelmed the imagination.

Chung-Pei Ma's violin tone, rich and warm, was wondrous as it glided as on silk, yet colored the music with fantastic hues and inflected it with bold character.

Joyce Wong drew very intense, beautiful sounds from her cello. She dramatically launched into the concerto, her instrument seeming to mimic a disembodied voice; she then proceeded to show great versatility at image painting and in building powerful crescendi. Wong showed boldness in her attack, but also a mature sympathy for the impassioned inner-world of Shostakovich's composition.

Jee-Lian Yap played the piano with great precision and, more importantly, with a subtlety which showed her depth of understanding of the work. Her rapport with the two string players was, moreover, magical, heightening the rapture of a brilliant performance.

Details were continually exposed, to be appreciated contemplatingly, but also with great enjoyment. Yet nothing was forced.

After the vigor of the Allegro con brio -- a surprise in its every phrase -- the solemnity of Yap's piano opening of the Largo was particularly striking. The tenderness of Ma's violin playing here was ravishing, the intensity of Wong's line of tone shattering. Tempi were just right in a reading of the movement which was taut, but never rushed.

The last movement was a thriller. With rhythmically exciting playing, the trio evoked a peasant earthiness, but explored themes of darkness, too. The piece ended amid waves of pure musical joy. This was an encounter with music of a profundity not often heard on the professional stage, let alone at a university. The musicians and their coach -- David Deveau -- deserve to be quite proud. Their audience was deeply moved and refreshed.

Flutist Brigitte Pak '91, also put in a remarkable performance yesterday afternoon, in Beethoven's Serenade for Flute, Violin and Viola in D, Op. 25. Her fingering was fleet and her sound enchanting in a performance of freshness and light. Alert and effervescent, Pak showed a penchant for illuminating tonal coloration, as well.

Tim Hsu '90 and Alice Lin '89 on violin and viola respectively made a brave effort in this piece, and played several passages with panache. They were out of their depth too much of the time, however, and did not establish a close musical relationship with Pak.

Trombonist Kenneth Simons '90 seemed uncomfortable in the Allegro fugato from Beethoven's Sonate 5, Op. 102, No. 2 -- it sounded rough -- but was expressive in the Cavatine, Op. 144 by Saint-S"aens, playing some particularly difficult passages with sensitivity. Ella Atkins G provided a pleasant piano accompaniment.

KENNETH GOODSON '89 may be graduating this year with a degree in mechanical engineering, as well as one in music, but he has spent a summer studying German Lied with such greats as Elly Ameling, Walter Berry, Ernst Haefliger and Hans Hotter at the 1988 Franz Schubert Institute near Vienna, and approaches his work with all the fervor of a professional. His voice is strong, and it is flexible too. But he must avoid over-extending it, if he is to have the distinguished career as a singer which he deserves.

Last night's recital began with Durante's Danza, danza fancuilla gentile and Bella siccome un angelo from Donizetti's Don Pasquale. Despite strong projection and an understanding of the need to pronounce each word clearly -- which many others in the profession lack -- the performances seemed squarish and with an element of harshness on top.

There were many good points to the seven songs Goodson sang from Schubert's Die Sch"one M"ullerin. Foremost, he has a feel for the German language and for its meaning. Secondly, he has a sense for the dramatic world of Lied. Thus Das Wandern began with a sense of breathless wonder, and was sung ebulliantly. The questioning central to Wohin? was also nicely brought out. Ungeduld was characterful, too.

There were, however, signs of strain at many points during the Schubert performance, and several missed notes. His singing was also, at times, overly aggressive, sometimes to the point of being unpleasant. I have heard Goodson sing German better, and this looks like a case of nerves; quite understandable, given the massive challenge of this extremely ambitious program.

Goodson came back after intermission seeming much more relaxed, and provided strong accounts of four songs by Faur'e and Don Quichotte `a Dulcin'ee by Ravel. Faur'e's Claire de Lune was gently and romantically sung; Prison and Mandoline were both sensitively expressed, and with a touch of the sensual.

The Ravel was the hit of the evening, with Goodson showing his abilities at coloration and expression. His pronunciation of the words "O Dulcin'ee was full of dreamy passion; quite alluringly beautiful.

Laura Dahl, who will study and perform with Goodson as a duo with Martin Isepp at the Banff Centre Academy of Singing in Alberta, Canada this summer, provided strong accompaniments throughout the evening.

An encore, Some Enchanted Evening, brought the program to a pleasant close.