Young and promising artistes

LAST SATURDAY night a packed house at the Max Mueller Bhavan was treated to a feast of vocal music by German, Austrian, French, English and American composers from the early 18th through the mid 20th century, interpreted by two young and highly promising artistes — the Chennai singer Nina Menezes, accompanied by the Bangalore pianist, Neecia Majolly.

Nina Menezes opened her programme with Franz Schubert's famous Ave Maria, a lied closely associated with the text of this Christian prayer. Following this musical invocation, the listener was taken through a 20-item banquet of song, mostly from central Europe.

The first and strongest impact that this artiste made was one of an utterly charming confidence. One cannot underrate the gorgeous purity and richness of the voice she displayed and, the potential it promises. If one found fault, it would be the shortcomings in the mechanics of her singing, particularly in the aspect of being aware of the treating of phrase endings and of realising the necessity of even more expert attention in this area. Only this will take her to where she rightfully belongs.

Apart from her voice, a strong plus point is her emotional control and intelligent understanding of what the music is all about. Occasionally, one was treated to a glimpse of what might be under the best circumstances, and it is quite heady. She has a particular facility for lied and oratorio. Three outstanding renderings were of Faure's Apres une Reve, Mozart's Ridente la calma, and Schubert's Alinde.

It is said that a close rapport with the audience is the most important part of performance. Nina Menezes held her audience in the palm of her hand. She performs not only with her voice, but her whole being. It is not the clever fingers of the pianist but the whole body on tiptoe taking part that is required. This Nina well understood. Under the right circumstances one might expect Ms. Menezes to go very far.

No review would be complete without a mention of the accompanist who must be, after all, an equal partner in any accompanied song. Neecia Majolly proved to be a very able accompanist, subsidiary and supportive when appropriate, confidently in the foreground where the music demanded.

This repertoire was not easy, and these two young artistes showed us both what talent for Western music exists here.

These two artistes, singer and pianist, were a great pair, leaving us with every good wish for their future careers, and wishes for ourselves, for further delights of musical banquets here in Chennai such as we enjoyed Saturday last. — FAC

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