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April 08, 1993 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-04-08

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The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - April 8, 1993- Page 3

Cecilia Bartoli interprets with expressive power

by Kirk Wetters
At this point, it's pretty well known that mezzo-soprano
Cecilia B artoli has a great voice, but her distinctive interpre-
tive personality is less widely appreciated. In her recorded
repertoire of works of Rossini and earlier composers, B artoli
is somewhat forceful in comparison to the subtlety and
understatement preferred by other singers. She is clearly an
interpreter who feels the need to powerfully express meaning
and emotion every word which she sings.
Especially the so-called "ArieAntiche" ("AncientArias"),
which are songs from the Italian late-Renaissance and Ba-
roque, have recently been recorded primarily by specialists
such as Emma Kirkby and Julianne Baird. Such interpreta-
tions, frequently with a harpsichord accompaniment, belong
to a world which is entirely different from Bartoli's vocal
richness accompanied by a modem piano. Both types of
performance have their place, but it is encouraging that this
music, much of which is excellent, will be more widely
recognized through the advocacy ofa performer like Bartoli.
Bartoli's piano accompanist, Martin Katz, described the
style of the "Arie Antiche." "It is rhythm and melody and
Bartoli is somewhat forceful in
comparison to the subtlety and
understatement preferred by other
singers. She is clearly an interpreter
who feels the need to powerfully
express meaning and emotion every
word which she sings.
style and charm. Ithas florid music to be executed, it has trills
- it is a very intimate kind of art," he said. "It has a special
charm that she (Bartoli) is very good at. It requires a real
purity of tone, as anything old does, which is very much her
strong suit."
When questioned about the importance of his role as an
accompanist, Katz said that it was 50 percent of the perfor-
mance. This is modesty on Katz's part, since it would be
plausible to say that good accompaniment is even more
important than a good singer: If a singer is ineffective or
uninspiring, the accompanist can do a lot to make up for it,
but if the accompaniment is bland, then the performance as
a whole will often be unsuccessful, regardless of the singer's

Katz explained why the accompaniment is so important.
"Most of it is not heralded by the public - the average
concert-goer doesn't know what the accompanist is doing.
He is setting all the tempos, allowing the singer to breathe or
not to breathe - most of them do better when they breathe,"
he said. "The accompanist creates the context for the words
to live in - in other words, if Cecilia is about to sing a
delicate lyric, and if I have an introduction, I have to already
set the scene for that. So I sort of have to set the frame, and
then she paints the painting."
Katz offered his insights into the reasons for Bartoli's
meteoric rise to the forefront of classical superstars. "She's a
twenty-six-year-old person who's unbelievably talented -
the world doesn't have this kind of talent come along at her
age very often," he said. "Combined with attractiveness
physically, combined with brains, combined with acting
ability, the whole package is really quite formidable."
Predictably, Bartoli's sudden presence has led to a flood
of far-fetched comparisons with other artists. Katz, however,
admitted that Bartoli does have much in common with the
Spanish mezzo, Teresa Berganza. "I think Berganza's name
does come to my mind as well, as a professional," he said.
"I've also played for Berganza, so I feel equipped to judge.
Their voices have about the same range and weight and
purity. She's flashier than Berganza - much flashier as a
thinker, and therefore her art comes out flashier. Berganza
was always a modest kind of artist, if you can generalize -
but it's not a bad comparison."
In the realm of "pop opera," Bartoli is much more than
just an improvement over such blockbusters as the "Three
Tenors Concert."Unlike the "tenors" concert, which shame-
lessly exploits celebrity names in order to pass off mediocre
performances of overplayed arias, Bartoli has made a name
for herself in repertoire which has in the past been far
removed from the classical "top 40."
Admittedly, thepublicityorganizationatLondon Records
deserves a large part of the credit for Bartoli's super-stardom,
but at least they have chosen to focus their attention on
serious artistry and on music which deserves notice =-not a
mere star vehicle.
CECILIA BARTOLI will perform with MARTIN KA7Z this
Saturday at 8 p.m. at Hill Auditorium. Tickets are $10 to
$35, at the UMS box office. Call 764-2538.

Frank BlacK
Frank Black
4AD/ Elektra
Now, two months after the unfortu-
nate but perhaps timely death of me-
lodic punkers, the Pixies, comes lead
singer/songwriter Black Francis' solo
effort. Anew year, anew album, anew
start, and interestingly, a new name:
Frank Black. He has become his own
evil twin.
With this new name and album
comes anew sound. "Frank Black ("the
big eponymous debut" as advertised)"
will not be mistaken for its creator's
previous works. The songs, vocals, and
lyrics are softer, spacier, and more ma-
turethananything from the Pixies. Frank
has expanded his eccentric world to
0 include tributestohisidolsthe Ramones
("I Heard Ramona Sing") and Iggy Pop
("Ten Percenter"). And his vocals are
deeper, fuller, and softer, often recalling
John Lennon and Lou Reed, especially
on "Adda Lee" and "Every Time I Go
Around Here." However, Frank is not
trying to disown his bizarre and illustri-
ous musical past. Warped subjects and
lyrics abound on "Frank Black," in-
cluding such topics as black holes
("Places NamedAfterNumbers"), UFO
conventions ("Parry the Wind High,
Low"), JohnDenver("Czar"), and grow-
ing out amustache ("Fu Manchu"), and
crazy lyrics like "I'm getting patterns
from a trekker and it sounds like soul
music to me" from "Parry the Wind."
Butperhaps themostimportantthing
torealize aboutthisalbumisthatitisnot
* the sequel to "Surfer Rosa." It does not

fill the gapofthePixies' supernova-like
implosion."FrankBlack" showsgrowth
and change, both of which may alienate
die-hards still mourning the death of
one of their favorite bands.
While songs such as "Czar," "Ten
Percenter," and "Adda Lee" could have
been on asixth Pixies album, this album
finds Frank experimenting with many
different sounds, from dreamy
Lennonesque pop ("Places Named Af-
ter Numbers") to Bowie-influenced
space noodlings ("Fu Manchu") to the
mod, Who-ish "I Heard Ramona Sing"
to the schizophrenic, thrashy dreami-
ness that is "Los Angeles."
Much of this new sound can be
attributed to Frank's collaboration with
Eric Drew Feldman, keyboardist with
Pere Ubu, the spacy, avant-rock band
that supported the Pixies on theirTrompe
le Monde tour. The keyboards add a
spooky, intergalactic feeling to much of
the album. Another contributor is John
Linell from They Might Be Giants. His
saxophone on the instrumental "Tossed"
one of the best songs on the album.
Fellow ex-PixieJoey Santiago lends his
fluid guitar stylings as well.
"Frank Black" is an innovative and
exciting album that combines the best
of art-rock, new wave, punk, and the
always refreshing visions of its creator.
while it will probably disappoint those
who only want to hear the Pixies, it will
be enjoyed by those willing to have
their heads taken to another space by
one of the most creative and iconoclas-
tic figures in music today.
- Heather Phares

Native Tongue
The flamboyant and whimsical C.C.
DeVille is gone and, consequently, so
too are the (in)famous catchy melodies
that defined "Talk Dirty To Me,"
"Nothin' But a Good Time" and
"Unskinny Bop." Some would say good
riddance.'The Poison of the '80s never
did manage to achieve any sort of re-
spect. Take it from someone who knows
- in terms of social acceptance, it was
not a good move to announce that you
liked four guys dressed in green neon
and lipstick, whose mostprofound com-

mentary on society may have been "Ev-
ery Rose Has Its Thorn." They were
corny and they were cheesy, but as they
say in clichd-land, that was then and this
is now.
Today with accomplished guitarist
Richie Kotzen, Poison's look is danger-
ous and their sound is less hook-happy,
more challenging and raw. In fact, these
guys aren't singing pop at all; they're
singin' the blues. Trying their
damnedest, anyway. Remember "Some-
thing To Believe In?" Add a choir,
thicken the sermon and make every
effort to sound deeply pained and you'll
See RECORDS, Page 10

Are you an artist?
In the fall Weekend etc. needs pen and
ink artists to do illustrations and other
miscelaneous art work. For info cal




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in Ann Arbor"
s voted in The Michigan Daily
Best of Ann Arbor Poll 1992
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1991 Sper lIc


B u

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