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Music Reviews : Hakan Hagegard in Song Recital at Royce Hall

February 09, 1988|HERBERT GLASS

The Swedish baritone Hakan Hagegard presented a handsomely sung, imaginatively constructed, altogether lovely song recital at Royce Hall, UCLA, on Saturday.

Minor problems of vocal production and finding the right declamatory groove were dispensed with at the outset, with a hint of tentativeness and a bit of therapeutic barking in the first few songs of Schumann's "Dichterliebe" cycle.

Thereafter, Hagegard, in rafter-ringing form, made the ardent convolutions and public passions of Richard Strauss' "Das Rosenband" convincingly heroic.

By contrast, in the "Rather Sad" portion of Charles Ives' "Memories" the baritone, singing sotto voce, communicated the feeling of sharing those memories on the most intimate level with each member of the audience, while in Hugo Wolf's rowdy, critic-bashing "Abschied," Hagegard was the sly comic actor, making meanings amply clear with a bit of body language and without benefit of simultaneous translation.

Mention should be made too of a discovery: Grieg's "Fra Monte Pincio," as evocative--and almost as inventive--of that composer's recollections of Rome as Ives' "The Circus Band" (heard earlier on the program) is of his small-town New England.

Hagegard shared the evening with pianist Warren Jones, who functioned as virtuoso whistler, compere and annotator in Ives, keyboard clown (with a rubato wide enough to accommodate a coach- and-four) in Wolf, and throughout as a supremely fluent pianist who knew when to be the singer's equal, when to linger in the shadows and when to take the spotlight.

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