There was excitement and joy in the eyes of baritone Dean Elzinga Sunday afternoon in Raitt Recital Hall at Pepperdine University. It was almost as if he couldn't believe he had this voice--big, resilient, resounding--and couldn't wait to show it off.
He was musical about it though. He's not just a belter. In opening the third season of the Stotsenberg Recital Series with a program of songs by Schubert, Vaughan Williams, Brahms and Ravel, the young Los Angeles resident showed communicative and technical abilities to reckon with.
That his voice and sometimes his actions weren't always calibrated to the small confines mattered little, because he did accomplish softness, nuance and insight as well. His low notes really popped at quieter levels; his highs were reached without shift or strain. And besides, his fortes were pretty thrilling, even if eardrum rattling.
The three Italian songs of Schubert to words of Metastasio that opened the program aren't exactly filled with subtle psychological coloring anyway. He sang them robustly and fluently, broadly underlining their sentiment, melodrama and wit.
Vaughan Williams' "Songs of Travel" (using poems of Robert Louis Stevenson) provided the recital's most satisfying sequence. With William Vendice his ever trenchant accompanist, Elzinga attended closely to word and meaning, sang with sweetness, silkiness and evenness of tone, while never straying too far from the heartiness and simplicity of these songs.
Brahms' "Vier ernste Gesange" and Ravel's 'Don Quichotte a Dulcinee" wound up the printed agenda. Extroverted accounts of Leigh's "I, Don Quixote" and the "Catalog" Aria from "Don Giovanni" were heard in encore.