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February 2, 2009

De Ryke, Schlosberg in fine recital of English song

My weekend started Friday night at An die Musik, where baritone Ryan de Ryke and pianist Daniel Schlosberg focused on the rich repertoire of English art songs. Both artists have done notable work in this area in the past, and did so again here with a well-thought-out program.

Ryan de Ryke baritoneHighlights included pieces by two composers who met their untimely deaths in the Great War -- relatively obscure W. Denis Browne and the better known George Butterworth, represented by selections from A Shropshire Lad. The latter inspired a good deal of sensitive singing from de Ryke (right), who caught the deceptively unconcerned air of "The lads in their hundreds" with particular finesse. The singer also did elegant work in Gerald Finzi's Shakespeare-based Let Us Garlands Bring, bringing considerable poetic warmth to "Come away, come away death."

It was enlightening to hear in one program some early Vaughan Williams, The House of Life from 1903, with its whiff of Edwardian stiffness, and the looser, even saucy Histoires naturelles written in 1906 by Ravel, who, a few years later, would be tutoring the British composer.

Throughout the evening, de Ryke got deeply into each song (sometimes with a bit more physicality than necessary) and communicated the texts with admirable clarity and nuance. A few technical matters could be questioned -- low notes were not always firm; soft, high passages could have used more sweetness -- but this was nonetheless rewarding vocalism, matched phrase for phrase by Schlosberg's eloquent touch at the keyboard (his accompaniment in the Ravel songs was especially refined and colorful). Two encores capped the stylish recital: Schubert's An Sylvia and the folk song "The Salley Gardens," in the classy Britten arrangement.      


Posted by Tim Smith at 10:02 AM | | 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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