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Review: Matthew Rose Makes an Impressive Recital Debut at Weill

Matthew Rose

By Jose Andrade, Contributing Writer, March 30, 2017

For over a hundred years, one of the hallmarks of a classically-trained singer was a New York recital debut. Last Saturday night bass Matthew Rose carried on this tradition in fine fashion at Weill Recital Hall. Partnered with pianist Vlad Iftinca, Mr. Rose presented two songs by Henry Purcell, a Carl Loewe ballad, and Franz Schubert’s song cycle, Schwanengesang.

Matthew Rose has made a name for himself in the opera world in the United States and Europe, and was not afraid to show his talents and passion for classical song literature. In Purcell’s “Let the night perish,” and “Let the dreadful engines of the eternal will,” he displayed a milky legato, a mastery of Purcellian colortura and fioritura in his lower register, and very distinct coloring of important words and phrases within the pieces. A calm, disciplined singer, Rose sometimes gave into the temptation of embellishing fortes in these two pieces which were both jarring and impressive.

Carl Loewe is perhaps the master of epic art song and “Archibald Douglas” is one of the more epic pieces: in 23 verses, Rose told the story of the reunion Archibald Douglas with King James with warmth and thought, frequently straight-toning phrases and ending them in vibrato. A fairly-rushed ending gave an emphatic punctuation mark to this “Archibald Douglas”.

Schubert’s Schwanengesang, his last song cycle, is not a strict song cycle in the sense of a story being told as in his Winterreise or Die Schöne Müllerin, but common themes of regret, nature, love and departure permeate every one of the fourteen songs within it. Rose and Iftinca crafted a well-paced and distinct Schwanengsang, with no pauses in between pieces.

In “Liebesbotschaft,” Rose created a very inviting atmosphere, singing no louder than piano. The next piece, “Kriegers Ahnung,” highlighted Iftinca’s artistry making the most of his introductions and solo passages, but he also took care to link them with the rest of his playing throughout the cycle. An impertinently impatient “Frühlingssehnsucht” was followed by a superbly executed “Ständchen” with a nice use of dynamics for change of intention. Iftinca made the most out of “In der Ferne’s” suspensions to create a mysterious, haunting quality which he also utilized in “Die Stadt” and “Doppelgänger” towards the end of the cycle. “Abschied” and “Das Fischermädchen” were both jaunty upbeat, with a light quality.

“Doppelgänger” was well-paced , building suspense, but oddly increasing tempo for his confrontation with his Doppelgänger. In the final song of the cycle, “Die Taubenpost,” Rose had an ironic touch, a most pleasant ending to a remarkable evening of his and Iftinca’s craft in art song.

As an encore, Rose performed Baron Och’s “ohne mich” from the end of Act 2 of Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, a fitting release from the sometime stifling confines of art song: he was sufficiently bombastic, self-confident and smug.

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Matthew Rose, bass, and Vlad Iftinca, piano, in recital at Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, on March 25, 2017.

PURCELL “Let the night perish” (“Job’s Curse”) (realized Britten)
PURCELL “Let the dreadful engines of eternal will” (realized Britten)
LOEWE “Archibald Douglas”
SCHUBERT Schwanengesang


R. STRAUSS Baron Ochs and Annina’s Duet / Ochs’s Monologue from the Act II Finale of Der Rosenkavalier

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Cover: Vlad Iftinca (at piano) and Matthew Rose at Weill Recital Hall; photo: Stefan Cohen.


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