In some ways, Ruth Golden's recital Saturday evening in Ramo Auditorium at Caltech seemed like a USC reunion. The young soprano is a USC graduate, as are her capable accompanist Levering Rothfuss and guest cellist Michael Mathews, and there were USC alums throughout the audience.
Golden also offered a new piece by Byron Adams, yet another former USC student. Happily for all concerned, though, the occasion was not simply a display of school spirit, for Adams' "Nocturne" proved a powerful lyric statement.
It was also a strong ensemble effort, intertwining Golden's voluptuous voice with Mathews' firm playing in long, surging lines. There are neo-modal intimations of Barber in "Nocturne," and Adams bursts into melismatic raptures on key words like many another composer, but the effect is utterly convincing in performance.
With a brooding, Whitmanesque poem by Ursula Vaughan Williams, "Nocturne" was as intense as Golden got Saturday. Her songs stuck resolutely to love interests, and never despairingly.