Wednesday, November 21, 2007


This evening I heard Measha Brueggergosman give a song recital at the Jack Singer, with Roger Vignoles on piano. Her program was full of sexy, flirtatious songs by composers I hadn't considered all that sexy - Britten, Schoenberg, Bolcom - along with some Poulenc and Satie.

It wasn't until I was riding home that I realized, that was an all 20th century program, made up entirely of stuff I'd never heard before. Somehow all the songs were immediately accessible, and even the stranger ones had some charm and style. It might have been the force of Measha's personality, which seems to radiate joy and playfulness. Even in "George", a William Bolcom song about a murdered drag queen, the audience started laughing - I couldn't really figure out why, since I found the song heartbreaking, though in a somewhat ironic way.

Measha's stage presence is so powerful, you find you can't take your eyes off of her. I wanted to follow the translations of the texts, in the Schoenberg, Poulenc, and Satie songs, but I found after a while that it was much more interesting just watching her face and gestures. (Most of the texts seemed pretty silly anyway.)

The rest of the audience seemed equally enthralled - she gave two encores, a spiritual, and a silly song about someone sending unwanted flowers. Before the second, she joked about not quite having the lyrics memorized, and she actually repeated the last verse so she could get it right. I think she could have sung nonsense syllables and the audience would have still adored her.

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