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Music Reviews : Lloyd and Shulman Offer Song Recital

Intelligent musical performers realize that to trust the music, rather than to fuss with it, is often the better part of valor. Canadian mezzo-soprano Dorothy-Jean Lloyd showed that kind of sense Sunday night when she teamed up with pianist Daniel Shulman in a wonderfully understated recital of early Romantic lied and 20th-Century French and American art songs.

In music by Schubert and Schumann, and then song sets by Copland, Ives and Debussy, Lloyd revealed a voice of luxuriant tone and technical ease, in quietly expressive performances. Virtuosity never surfaced for its own sake, and attention focused squarely on the music. Shulman--a director of the IMA Concerts, of which this recital was one--supported her with sensitivity to nuance and suppleness of touch.

What the concert--in Little Bridges Hall at Pomona College, Claremont and scheduled for repeat Monday in Hermosa Beach--didn’t offer was much contrast or agitation. One felt at times that perhaps the performers were too relaxed, too much counting on just beautiful sounds in getting meaning across. Thus in an ultra-gracious and joyful reading of Schumann’s “Frauenliebe und -leben,” the ultimate despair of the final song seemed skirted, the piano epilogue a mere restatement of theme rather than summation.

This easeful expressivity paid dividends just as often, however, as in the quietly frightening and spacious account of Schubert’s “Der Doppelganger,” and in the unaffected cheer of “Seligkeit,” which followed in contrast.

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After intermission, Lloyd offered frolicsome performances of Copland’s “Why do they shut me out of Heaven?,” “I bought me a cat” and “Simple Gifts,” and Ives’ “Memories.” An intent and flowing reading of “The Housatonic at Stockbridge” by Ives captured its mysticism effectively, despite Lloyd’s occasionally unclear enunciation.

Debussy’s “Chansons de Bilitis” provided the singer a perfect opportunity for undemonstrative emotionalism and plush vocalism. Unhurried and effortless readings of Poulenc’s “Violon,” Weill’s “Je ne t’aime pas,” and Satie’s “Je te veux” wound up this poised recital typically, nudging listeners ever so gently into the night.


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