The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 71.0°F | Overcast

Goodson concert expresses the essence of a romantic

Kenneth Goodson, baritone.
Laura Dahl, pianist.
Liederkreis, Opus 39.
Killian Hall, Feb. 25, noon.

By Allison M. Marino

Rustling leaves, twinkling stars, and lonely forests interweave the twelve miniature pieces in Liederkreis, Opus 39, a song cycle of the quintessential romantic Robert Schumann. Unlike Dichterliebe, Opus 48, a Schumann song cycle with a continuing storyline that Kenneth Goodson performed earlier in February, Liederkreis is a collection of individual scenes from a novel of Eichendorff, linked by associations only.

Goodson prefaced each song in this afternoon student recital with a spoken translation, which worked well in the comfortable atmosphere of Killian Hall. His speaking was crisp and at times humorous, for he was able to convey conversation more effectively in speech than in song. A sweet moment was his sly portrayal of a hunter who happens upon a beautiful woman deep in the forest. He is quite satisfied with himself until he realizes he will soon meet death in the forest with a lovely, but deceptive, witch! Death is yet another theme of Liederkreis, but not an ominous, unpleasant one. It's the destination of an emotional journey -- peaceful, ironic, or otherwise -- among such romantic favorites as bursting joy, lost love, and loneliness.

Goodson best conveyed the sincere and often shifting emotions implied in Eichendorff's verse with his voice. With minimal body gestures, Goodson's facial expression added to his captivating singing to lift the audience from Killian Hall to the banks of babbling brooks and the depths of isolated castles, to experience life's emotions with various star-struck and melancholy wanderers.

Laura Dahl gracefully supported Goodson on the piano, naturally altering tempo and dynamics with him throughout the varied miniatures. In "Moonlit Night," Goodson sang of his soul flying homeward; after the verse ended, Dahl continued, somehow conveying the nebulous image of a soul in the wind.

Goodson executed the final song, "Spring Night," beautifully. True to the cycle's romantic essence, "Spring Night" was triumphant and hopeful, yet not fully resolved. This fortissimo climax, as well as the rest of the cycle, could have been even more expressive had Goodson exercised a softer dynamic range.

Liederkreis, Opus 39, was the second in a series of three performances of Schumann song cycles. Don't miss Goodson's last performance, of Liederkreis, Opus 24, at noon on April 3. The performance will be held at Killian Hall and it is free.