* Notes *
The 2009 Schwabacher Debut Recital Series opened with Alek Shrader, accompanied by the inimitable John Parr, last Sunday. Shrader's voice is clear and pretty, but his upper register is considerably more strained than his lower register. However, he is remarkably consistent. His rendition of various Benjamin Britten songs came off well, but he did not sing Schumann's Dichterliebe with much verve. Perhaps I was comparing him unfavorably with the baritone Eugene Brancoveanu, who sang this work last March.
The Henri Duparc songs and the Liszt's Drei Lieder aus Schillers Wilhelm Tell were again sung nicely, but not with much fire. It was very clear that Shrader is much more at ease in the lower part of his voice in "Der Alpenjäger." He came alive when singing bel canto, at the end of the recital. There was some distracting issues of breathing through teeth, but Rossini's "La danza" was absolutely lovely.
Shrader played guitar with his first encore, "Ecco ridente in cielo," and this was rather charming. At one point he did make a rather obvious mistake in playing, but simply played it off by scolding an invisible Figaro.
* Tattling *
Audience members spoke aloud during the music, there was one watch alarm that went off twice, and some very audible snoring was heard during the Schumann and Liszt.