Her extensive performing career in opera has stood soprano Rose Prather in good stead as a recitalist. She demonstrated that fine dramatic perception in an ambitious program within the friendly confines of Nagle Hall, an attractive concert venue of Christ the King Lutheran Church. Furnishing major and indispensable support was her longtime artistic colleague, pianist Margaret Singer.
One could not have asked for a more fundamental beginning to the program. “An die Musik” ("To Music") began a three-song set by Schubert. This familiar staple was a good choice to warm up audience and singer alike, introducing her easy grace and an agreeable absence of vibrato, both qualities continuing throughout the afternoon. Next came “Frülingsglaube” ("Faith in Spring") and “Die junge Nonne” ("The Young Nun"). This latter piece could almost have been billed as a piano solo with voice accompaniment, so masterly was the piano part. The opening text, “How fierce the storm howls…thunder rolls, the lightning flashes…” characterized the piano accompaniment, eventually quelled by the soothing lines of the Young Nun herself: “…my heart is peaceful and calm.”
Four songs of Richard Strauss brought the program to intermission. His “Zueignung” ("Devotion") seemed notably successful. Here violent accompaniment again complemented the tormented love that “makes the heart ache.”
The soprano was at her dramatic finest in the surprise set on the program, Poema en forma de Canciones (Poems in the manner of Songs) by Joaquin Turina (1882-1949). Investigation of this lesser known Spanish composer reveals that he was influenced by Falla and Albeniz, and by d’Indy in France. Four songs of passion and emotion followed a tranquil introduction (“Dedicatoria”) by the solo piano. Such songs as “Nunca olvida” ("Never forget") and “Las locas por amor” ("Crazy for love") characterized the work. This singer brought to these enchanting pieces a powerful blend of pathos and comedy.
Samuel Barber’s celebrated Hermit Songs closed the recital. In this beautiful and quirky set, perhaps the highlight was “The Crucifixion.” But then, there was “The Monk and his Cat,” declaring that “a cat can make you happy.”
Here Rose Prather has demonstrated why she has received such honors as the “Town Hall Award” and “Singer of the Year” by the National Association of Teachers of Singing. And it was evident why Margaret Singer would have been singled out for high praise by none other than that world renowned “Unashamed Accompanist,” Gerald Moore.
Before releasing the attendees back out into the heat and humidity, the sponsors treated them to a pleasant diversion in the lobby. There, spread about were a generous-sized cake, chocolate chip cookies and a bracing bowl of summer punch, all to die for.