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February 15, 2011

Measha Brueggergosman explores nocturnal themes in Shriver Hall recital

In addition to having one of the longest names in the business, soprano Measha Brueggergosman has one of most engaging personalities around.

It comes through the moment you see her walk onstage barefoot -- her trademark -- and it shines quite brightly even though she tends to stand quite rigid, hands at her side, when she sings.

At her best, she produces a warm, vibrant sound and articulates with admirable clarity. Her phrasing tends to be straightforward, unfussy, but never indifferent. She can communicate a text in telling fashion. If there are times when one might wish for a little more tonal and dynamic nuance, such moments tend to be fleeting.

So it was during Brueggergosman's appearance Sunday evening on the Shriver Hall Concert Series as she explored repertoire centered, more or less, around nocturnal themes, the subject of her recent Deutsche Grammophon recording "Night and Dreams." The program included some selections from that disc and was accompanied by the same remarkably sensitive pianist heard on the recording, Justus Zeyen.

In Schubert's "Nachstuck,"

Brueggergosman soared wonderfully in the verse about the "holy night" that brings the comfort of death. Her long-breathed shaping of the lines about the earth's embrace in the same composer's "Die Mutter Erde" likewise hit home, as did Zeyen's eloquent playing of the piano coda.

A group of Duparc songs and Strauss' "Die Nacht" inspired some of the most radiant, absorbing vocalism of the evening. The singer's lighthearted side was given a chance to break free quite charmingly in Turina's "Tres Sonetos." Her encore, Barber's "Sure on this Shining Night," provided an exquisite close to the evening.

Earlier, Zeyen was featured in a couple of solo pieces by Schumann and Chopin that contributed to the night idea in telling fashion.

Naturally, the hall was far from full; Shriver subscribers are notoriously immune to the appeal of vocal recitals. But compliments to the management not just for printing all the texts, but arranging them to avoid mid-song page-turns. As the old song goes, little things mean a lot.

Here's a video clip of Measha Brueggergosman and Justus Zeyen performing a Chausson song that's on their DG recording, "Night and Dreams":


Posted by Tim Smith at 6:11 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Clef Notes, Shriver Hall


She took that long name voluntarily. According to Wikipedia, she was born Measha Gosman, and Bruegger (or with an umlaut over the "u" and no "e") is her ex-husband's name.

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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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