Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Anne Sofie von Otter Creates Two Musical Worlds in Australia

Mezzo-soprano down under in Sydney
(Photo: Jane Dempster/The Australian)
Mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter performed at the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Symphony in the Concert Hall on November 3 and as part of the Utzon Music Series in the Utzon Room on November 6. "From her recordings and reputation, I knew Swedish mezzosoprano Anne Sofie von Otter was a remarkable artist. What her two Sydney concerts also demonstrated was her impressive stylistic range. Whether she's singing classical, jazz or pop, von Otter is assured across her tessitura and sustains superb dynamic control and nuanced tone colours. The first half of her Sydney Symphony concert was devoted to a selection of Canteloube's Songs of the Auvergne. Von Otter is renowned for her capacity to completely capture a song's character. So it proved here. Her strong sense of line created sensitively shaped accounts of 'Bailero' and 'La Delaissado,' her precise attack and clarity of articulation invigorated 'L'aio de Rotso' and 'Lou Boussu' and she showed delightful comic touches in 'Lou Coucut'.....von Otter sensibly employed a microphone in her selection of popular
melodies. The transformation was extraordinary. Von Otter sounded like a completely different singer, a popular vocalist in the best traditions of the Great American Songbook. Sinuous phrasing and hushed dynamics achieved haunting renditions of 'Answer Me, My Love' and Weill's 'Speak Low,' her rhythmic acuity enlivened two Gershwin classics (a funky 'Slap That Bass' and 'They Can't Take That Away From Me') while an alluring, smoky-toned account of another Weill classic, 'I'm a Stranger Here Myself,' revealed an inner chanteuse.....Joined by long-time accompanist Bengt Forsberg, von Otter's traversal of the Scandinavian repertoire was as satisfying as expected. Her expressive gifts and timbral variety quickly established the mood of each song, from the darkly dramatic (Sibelius's 'Till Frigga'), quietly intense (Grieg's 'Varen') or quirky and light-hearted ('Jens Madsen a An-Sofie' by Nielsen)....Her impassioned account of Legrand's 'What are You Doing the Rest of Your Life' made a poignant impact while her delicate, pure-toned readings of songs by McCartney, Costello and ABBA were captivating." [Source]

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