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October 14, 2008

De Ryke, Mengelkoch shine in Schubert recital

Ryan de RykeFor some of us, there are few musical pleasures more enriching than lieder recitals. But we don't get that many opportunities to indulge. Since many people would rather face root canals than a bunch of deadly serious songs in German, few presenters are willing to take a chance on programming such events. So Sunday afternoon's performance of Schubert's Winterreise at the graceful mansion on the grounds of Cylburn Arboreteum came as a most welcome entry on the local arts calendar, especially since it featured the ever-engaging baritone Ryan de Ryke and the admirable pianist Eva Mengelkoch. The two seemed to be totally involved in this song cycle's profound journey of body and soul, its glimpse into what it means to be alienated from love and purpose.

De Ryke used his well-controlled, evenly produced voice to telling effect throughout, offering a remarkable range of dynamic coloring that enabled the subtlest deatils of both Wilhelm Muller poetry and Schubert's perfectly matched melodies to be keenly felt. He got so deeply, sometimes chillingly into the character of the melancholy wanderer that the songs took on the vividness of a great play.

The sizable crowd that turned out also was rewarded with the finely judged, supportive playing by Mengelkoch, who clearly understands how much meaning is packed into the piano part. The chamber music series at Cylburn, founded and directed by Mengelkoch, has its next presentation in April.


Posted by Tim Smith at 1:05 PM | | Comments (0)

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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