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12.12.11

Eric Owens Goes to Hell and Back

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Mozart, Requiem Mass,
C. Brewer, E. Owens (et al.)
Charles T. Downey, Vocal Arts D.C.: Eric Owens at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater (Washington Post, December 12, 2011)
Sometimes the omnipresent December holiday rigmarole can feel like a depressing taste of the tortures of Hades. By coincidence, that was exactly what Eric Owens offered on the first half of his Vocal Arts D.C. recital Friday night at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. The American bass-baritone canceled this concert in September because of illness, but the bracing program of German and French songs, with not a single carol or jingle among them, turned out to be worth the wait.

A somber group of Hugo Wolf songs set the mood, with bleak harmony supporting the broad, resonant tone of Owens’s voice. When the instrument is opened up, it has a booming, tenebrous quality at the bottom and a commanding roar at the top, displayed in three lieder by Robert Schumann. In “Mein Herz ist schwer,” set to words adapted from a poem by Lord Byron, Owens cried out for comfort in song, but none was to be found in the grim “Der Schatzgraber,” with a driving ostinato obsessively dug out in the keyboard part by the sensitive pianist Craig Rutenberg. [Continue reading]
SEE ALSO:
James Bash, Recital shows Eric Owens at the height of his singing prowess (Oregon Music News, December 1)

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