Page 6-Thursday, September 22, 1977-The Michigan Daily'
Beethoven without spark
By MARK JOHANSSON
Cana woman play the piano as well,
as a man? After all, the really great
concert pianists are men. Does a
large figure seated at the keyboard of
a concert grand look more proper
than a tiny one? Naturally, an artist
must shake the 9 foot instrument with
every forte chord.
I asked myself these two questions
and thought about the facts behind
them Tuesday night as I listened to
Maria Meirelles perform her fourth
installment of the 32 Beethoven
Piano Sonatas in Rackham Auditor-
ium. Actually, she did very well. Her
appearance on stage was command-
ing, and she looked good at the piano.
Was it her dress? Also, she could and
did shake the piano; add another
Maybe Meirelles has an unusually
good memory. She certainly has
something. You could probably call it
courage, because the sonatas, if
played one after another, take well
over eight hours to play! This series
is no small undertaking and besides
getting an A for effort, Meirelles
gives some very good performances.
Most of the recitals consi'st of four
sonatas. They are not arranged
according to opus numbers but are
. pressure ranges from about 90 over 60
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If the bottom number, known as the
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104 on two different readings, the
program recommends a visit to a
doctor for medication to lower the
mixed for greater variety. Tuesday's
program was well balanced, as some
of the most popular and less popular
sonatas were played.
Opening the evening was Beetho-
ven's first, the sonata, op. 2, no. 1, in
f. This sonata probably attracted
quite a bit of attention when first
published in 1796, because it con-
tained four movements instead of the
usual classical three.
After a shaky first movement with
an erratic tempo and her hands not
playing together, Meirelles seemed
to get better as she played more. In
the Adagio, her accompaniment in
the left hand was even and her
ornamentation was very smooth. In
both the Adagio and the Prestissimo
the melody was clear and firm and
the first dropped notes in.the Prest-
issimo were played during the re-
peat. The menueto was precise with
good contrasts and dynamic control.
Meirelles gave her best perform-
ance of the evening while playing the
Sonata in A-flat, op. 26. This sonata is
unique, since three of the move-
ments, Andante with 'variations,
Scherzo, and Funeral march, had not
been used in sonatas until Beethoven.
The second variation on the Andante
was outstanding; the sound was very
clear, despite all the chords, the
attacks accurate 'and all notes
seemed in place. The tempo and
dynamics in the Scherzo were excel-
lent, however, the texture in the
Marcia was a little too choppy - it
may have been the pedaling. In the
Allegro the accuracy of the hands
was very good and despite the
difficulty, the tempo was kept, ex-
After intermission the Sonata in G,
op. 31, no. 1, was performed. This is
certainly not the most famous Bee-
thoven sonata, and was the first time
I heard it played in public. Through-
out the piece I could not help but
making jokes; it seemed so out of
place alongside the rest. I believe the
pianist did her best with it and the
audience should be thanked for
sitting through it.
Only two straws are needed to
break this sonata, and the second
movement is number two. The
movement starts out simple like an
adagio should, but the embellish-
ments come thick and fast - so much
so, the piece sounds like it's going
nowhere. The sheer length is taxing
on the mind and the paces the left
hand goes through near the end are
Sonata 26 in E-flat, op. 81, (Les
Adieux), probably the most well-
known piece'on the program, is a
fairly late work and comes from the
mind of a much more romantic
Beethoven. Meirelles gave a solid
tone to the Adagio where the ideas
are firmly tied together with a strong
sense of direction. In the great
Adagio, the embellishments seem to
be a part of the melody and do not
detract from it. The pianissimo here
was good without a sacrifice of tone.
Even through the difficult passages
of the Vivacissimamente including
the rhythm changes and all the
eighth and sixteenth notes Meirelles
played with much authority while
keeping the texture very clean.
Overall, Meirelles' technique was
very musical. She can be forceful,
yet her touch is generally light, and
her tone firm and warm. All these
ingredients are basic to the interpre-
tation of Beethoven's many moods.
The final four recitals will be
presented on September 23 and 27
and on October 1 and 4, all at 8:00
p.m. in Rackl am. Admission is
Operatic talent captured on discs
Vocal music lovers will be interested
to hear the voice of Mezzo-soprano Con-
chita Supervia on a new release by
Seraphim records, Opera Arias and
Spanish Songs. Although she has been
dead for over 30 years, her legend lives
on with this recording.
Supervia was born in Barcelona in
1895, and made her debut in Buenos
Aires at the Colon Opera House at the
young age of fifteen. Several years
later she had played many demanding
"roles, including her performance in the
Roman premier of Der Rosenkavalier.
Her career peaked with revivals of
Rossini in many European capitals dur-
ing the early 1930's. She became es-
pecially famous in L'Italiana in Algeri
and La Cenerentola. She also perform-
ed Ravel, Donizetti, Thomas, Berlioz
and Mozart, in addition to her native
Spanish zarzuela and folk songs. Con-
chita Supervia died in 1936.
Despite having been recorded be-
tween 1927 and 1932, the album selec-
tions'are quite remarkable with Super-
via's voice sounding unexpectedly
clean and clear. The orchestra behind
hbr, however, sounds very weak and far
away, and does not give enough support
during the lyric, sostenuto phrases. In
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contrast, the piano accompaniment on
the opposite side is in fine balance with,
her voice. With the piano a greater
dynamic range is heard, and a richer,
more musical sound is achieved.
Supervia's exceptional versatility is
in evidence on side one. As Carmen, she
sings Bizet's extraordinarily rhythmic
and melodic arias with an exciting sen-
se of seductiveness and passion even
though the tempi change from
habanera to seguidilla to chanson.
These tempi all seem to be unusually
fast for Carmen, especially the chan-
son, although it may be the recording.
From Mignon, Supervia sings Con-
nais-tu le pays;, and slowly and sweetly
tells of the land where she had lived be-
fore being abducted by gypsies. Here
she uses her great dynamic range to in-
timately express her remorse: "Alas!
- If only I could follow you to that hap-
py shore from which Fate has exiled
me." The emotions are very strong and
the dispair very real.
The vocal color change in Musetta's
Waltz from La Boheme is striking. Her
voice begins very rich and mellow, then
rolls and lilts with the waltz, and finally
she uses her great power'and control as
her voice rises and falls in an effort to
receive attention from her, former
In the final scenearia from La Cener-
entola, Supervia's virtuosity is clearly
evident. Even through a myriad of me-
ter changes, dynamic varieties, nu-
merous interval leaps' and slides, and
complex ornamentation, her colora-
tura remains extremely accurate, yet
smooth, and above all, natural.
This combination of a mellow mezzo-
soprano with such a great coloratura
talent brought Supervia her fame as an
opera star. She also had an ability to
sing the songs of her native Spain with
all the emotion and fervor necessary to
at 10:00A. M.
at The U N ION
convey the feelings they contained.
Two collections of Spahish songs are
recorded, on side two. Band one con-
'tains songs by Periquet arranged by
Granados. Mostly fast paced and about
typically Spanish subjects, girls, boys,
love, and hate, they are simple songs
with simple accompaniment, yet they
have exciting and intriguing melodies
which can be only interpreted best by a
Perhaps the most exciting selections
are the Seven Popular Songs arranged
by Manuel de Falla, the most important
Spanish composer of the 20th century.
Here, Supervia sings the wild, haunt-
ing, distindtly Spanish melodies against
the unique, very difficult, and again
typically Spanish rhythms of the piano
accompaniment. In these songs are the
best examples of Conchita Supervia's
ability to convey vividly the deepest
emotions with her truly unique voice.
This album is important as a small
tribute to an enormous talent.
- MARK JOHANSSON
Now °that Dolbyized stereo and even
quadraphonic recordings have become
passe, we tend to regard any pre-fifties
record as quaint. Such arrogance is, to
some extent, justifiable-after all,
when such divas as Caballe, Sills and,
Sutherland can be heard on first class
recordings of fulflength 'operas, who
wants' to hear yesterday's stars singing
through the rumble and hiss of old 78's?
Great Sopranos of the Century Sera-
phim 60274 is an anthology of arias or-'
iginally released between 1904 and 1948,
and were it not for the brilliance of
some of the performances, this disc
would definitely fall in the "quaint"
category. Indeed, its first two cuts are
so technically primitive that fair as-
sessment of the performances is almost
Luisa Tetrazzini's recording of
Meyerbeer's Shadow Song opens the
first side. Recorded in 1908, the year of
her New York debut, it is full of the
leaps, runs, and thrills that coloraturas
love to show off with, and Tetrazzini
certainly gets all the note-, out. Such
points as breath control and phrasing
are impossible to consider because they
simply do not come through on the
Nellie Melba is represented by a 1904
rendition of the Ah, fors'e lui ... Sem-
pre libera sequence from La Traviata.
Her light, agile voice barely gets
through the muddy sound of this recor-
ding, but it does get through. Even
though high passages tend to be on the
sharp side and Melba takes some liber-
ties with descending passages near the
end, this is an enjoyable performance.
A 1927 performance of Hojotoho!
from Die Walkure brings us, at last, to
electrical recordings. Frida Leider is
the soloist, and takes an appropriately
shrieky approach to one of Wagner's
more embarrassing creations.
Elisabeth Schumann's 1934 recording
of Schubert's Ave Maria comes next. It
is a very moving, simple, clear per-
formance-before hearing this tasteful
interpretation, I had always considered
the piece syrupy. Maria Caniglia's ren-
dition of Morro, ma prima in grazia
from Un Ballo in Maschera is also quite
affecting. These two selections are cer-
tainly high points of the album.
Unfortunately, Toti Dal Monte's "Un
bel di," from Madam Butterfly is a low
point. The liner notes say that Cio-Cio
San was one of Dal Monte's "greatest
successes," but, judging from this 1939
recording, I cannot understand why.
Her voice is harsh and strident, hardly
the voice of Puccini's vulnerable, in-
A highly sensual Liebestod, sung by
Lotte Lehmann, begins side two. The
fact that it was recorded in 1930, before
a Wagnerian orchektra could be done
much justice on records, is a slight
drawback, but Lehmann's soaring
voice makes up for any technical de-
After Eva Turner's workmanlike but
conventional reading of 0 patria mia
from Aida comes the record's most ex-
citing selection. Claudia Muzio sings
L'altra notte in fondo al mare from
Mefistofele with a fire that Boito him-
self would have loved. The piece calls
for heavy use of the lower register, and
Muzio's is fll and powerful.
The remainin-selections are so-so.
Kirsten Flagstad made a number of
better recordings than the one included
here (Traume) but it may prove in-
teresting to those unfamiliar with non-
theatrical Wagner. Maggie Teyte's
singing of Debussy's Green is pleasant,
and Madeleine Grey's supple treatment
of Canteloube's Lo Fiolaire is better
than the neurotic composition deserve$
Conchita Supervia sings Valverde's
Clavelitos with great cheer and'
bounce - the happy little tune is a nice
conclusion to an album with as many
ups and downs as this.
- RICHARD LEWIS
AN AMISH ACE
WESTBURY, N.Y. (AP) - Trusty
Time, a winning harness performer,
at Roosevelt Raceway'in the spring
of 1977, is a former Amish buggy
horse. He was sold by his original"
Amish owner for $305 because of his
headstrong behavior when trucks
passed him and his buggy.
The first buyer then sold him for
$400 to Don Jacobs of Mount Sterling,
Ohio, who was out of work and had
plenty of time to drive Trusty Time.
He did and discovered the horse
Trusty Time's present trainer,
Doug Hamilton, had a curious com-
ment. "The horse goes wild around
machinery," he said. "I can't train
him near the water wagon. Other-
wise his disposition is excellent."
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Has taught at HOWARD UNIVERSITY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY, currently
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