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.
Highlights 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.
BALTIMORE SUN FILE PHOTO