Vocal Recital: Innocence Lost: The Berg-Debussy Project
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 07, 2007

“a musical tour de force… Golan was more than an equal partner, her virtuosic expressiveness making each of the 20 tunes a miniature tone poem.”

Music Review: Nessinger-Golan concert has an edge

It seems that theme concerts have moved beyond the all-the-rage stage and have become a staple in classical concert series schedules, which may include everything from Renaissance Halloween tunes to songs of servitude to lush German Romanticism.

Mezzo-soprano Mary Nessinger and pianist Jeanne Golan have found their own niche. Their passion for the song cycle and commitment to fostering new compositions have motivated them to commission works from contemporary American composers. Monday night, the two presented their latest collaboration, “Innocence Lost: The Berg-Debussy Project,” in an exquisite but woefully under-attended concert (of course, the Steelers were playing) at Bellefield Hall Auditorium in Oakland, under the auspices of the University of Pittsburgh’s Music On the Edge concert series.

The concept of the project was to create new works inspired by Alban Berg’s “Seven Early Songs” and Claude Debussy’s “Chansons de Bilitis,” two enrapturing song cycles set to texts by several neo-romantic poets of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Nessinger and Nolan commissioned 10 composers for the project: Tom Cipullo, Sebastian Currier, David Del Tredici, Lee Hyla, Joe Kerr, Jorge Martin, Eric Moe, Eleanor Sandresky, Anna Weesner and Daniel Rothman.

The result was a concert that covered the gamut of what medievalists called romantic love: the settings of texts from 16 poets ranging from initial innocent flirtation through comfortable afterglow to delusional denial and secure recovery.

Rest assured that the concert was not a dry dissertation. Nessinger and Golan are established international artists individually and were a musical tour de force when combining their talents. Nessinger infused every song with throaty passion, not to mention exceptional French, German and English diction. Golan was more than an equal partner, her virtuosic expressiveness making each of the 20 tunes a miniature tone poem.

by Eric Haines

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