Four young artists who have bright futures ahead
In the course of a season, a critic hears a tremendous array of talent, from the acclaimed to the overlooked, from those just on the threshold of important careers to those in the twilight of their performing years. I make no pretenses to a sort of comprehensive overview of the young talent scene. Nevertheless, the four following artists have all done work worthy of specific mention this season.
Cellist Carter Brey has won numerous awards, including the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists, which gave him his Alice Tully Hall debut this past Feb. He has also come to the attention of Mstislav Rostropovich, who offered him a National Symphony debut earlier this season, and his career seems to be on its way.
In a program that included works by Francoeur, Kodaly, Foss, and Chopin, Mr. Brey's pleasing, matter-of-fact stage presence was instantly apparent. Also obvious was his abundant technical facility: He breezed through the Kodaly Sonata for Unaccompanied Cello, Op. 8 as if it were a midlle-level school exercise. However, there is nothing matter-of-fact about the way he makes music. He never flaunts his technique, but by making thorny passages seem easy, he is actually able to make music, rather than merely being satisfied with the ''I got through it'' attitude which so many younger talents are apt to content themselves.
Mr. Brey is a musician of elegance, of strength, of panache, without cockiness. The tone is straightforward, pliant, if slightly lacking in the fullest array of colors available to the instrument. The spinning of long lyric lines is a particular joy in his hands, but he dares to be harsh, even acidulous of tone if he feels it will serve the music. On the basis of this program alone, it is clear that Mr. Brey is destined for great things.
Lyric soprano Marvis Martin is a member of the Metropolitan Opera Studio, but she seems to be garnering her stage experience everywhere but the Met. She made her New York Philharmonic debut a few weeks back in Robert Shaw's performance of Brahms's ''A German Requiem.'' This young soprano possesses a rich, lustrous soprano that is capable of a lovely shimmer in the upper reaches. There is some strength in the lower area of the voice, and she gets to those notes without distorting the essential timbre of the voice. As yet, she lacks true consistency , but by the half-way point of the soprano's movement in the Brahms, her singing settled into something both beautiful to listen to and interpretively astute.
Peter Orth did something brave and unusual at his Kaufman Hall concert this past fall: He invited the Muir Quartet to join him for a rare New York performance of Shostakovich's propulsive Piano Quintet Op. 57.
When I first heard Mr. Orth, he was playing this very work at the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont. That performance had all the drive and poetry Shostakovich asked for, from the pianist and ensemble. The New York performance found Mr. Orth providing all one could want in alertness and thrust, and there was more brooding moodiness than before. Curiously, the Muir Quartet chose to smooth out just as many jagged edges as possible in a score that demands a brusqueness, even savageness of gesture so often throughout its duration.
In the first half of the program, Mr. Orth performed Beethoven's Six Variations in F major, Op. 34, and the Brahms Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, Op. 24. The Beethoven received a huge, explosive performance that underlined the echoes of the future heard in the piece - particularly the hints of the late piano sonatas. The Brahms was titantic in scale. Mr. Orth is abounding in ideas, many of which required risk to pull off. But he was willing to take the risks to communicate his musical vision. Clearly, Mr. Orth hears music in terms of vistas and boundaries, not just notes and dynamics; his insights belie his youth, and he projects them with heartfelt dedication.
Alessandra Marc is just at the beginning of what could easily be an exceptional career. Her soprano has all the makings of at least a spinto in terms of weight and thrust. Some might say she is really a budding dramatic, but the weight of the middle and lower parts of the instrument as yet do not have the solidity that is a prerequisite for that repertoire.
She was heard at the 92nd Street Y in a performance of Shostakovich's 14th Symphony, Gerard Schwarz directing the Y Chamber Orchestra. This is not an ideal piece for so young a singer. It makes strenous demands on the voice, and even more, on the interpretive depth of the artist. At 26, Miss Marc cannot hope to have acquired enough emotional depth to get much of the message across. But the size of the upper range, and the clarity and ease with which she projects it, indicate something altogether exceptional.
Because hers is so unusual an instrument, she must be given scrupulous guidance in matters of stage appearance, comportment, and vocal growth. She has a lot to learn, and she should be pushed ahead of her abilities just because the top is so clear and easy. This voice cannot be allowed to go the route of so many young singers today.