Soprano Lisa Saffer, Soaring Above the Storm
By Tim Page
The Washington Post - Tuesday, December 16, 2003


Neither snow nor rain nor one of the biggest breaking news stories in recent memory could keep a substantial audience from making its way to soprano Lisa Saffer's Sunday afternoon recital at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, sponsored by the Vocal Arts Society.… few coloratura sopranos of any era would have dared such a brainy program as the one she undertook on Sunday.

Four beautiful and intimate songs by Arnold Schoenberg … more concerned with conveying exact and intricate moods than with seducing an audience through memorable melodies. … the attentive listener can be very much moved by Schoenberg's evocations, especially when they're realized with the care Saffer expended upon them.…throughout the afternoon, the pianist Judith Gordon made a splendid partner, working hand-in-glove with Saffer to create the most intense performance possible. Some early songs by Debussy proved a nice contrast -- easy-flowing and agreeably lyrical.

The concluding work, a densely chromatic song cycle titled "Reasons for Moving," by the contemporary composer Martin Brody… permitted Saffer's voice to soar stratospherically in four earnest meditations on solitude.


Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)
Four Songs, op. 2
I. Erwartung (Expectation)
II. Schenk mir deinen goldenen Kamm (Present me with your golden comb)
III. Erhebung (Exaltation)
IV. Waldsonne (Forest Sun)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Ridente la calma, K. 152 (Tranquility fills my soul)
Wie unglücklich bin ich nit, K. 147 (How unhappy am I)
Als Luise die Briefe ihres ungetreuen Liebhabers verbrannte, K. 520 (When Luise burned the letters of her unfaithful lover)
Abendempfindung, K. 523 (Evening Reflections)

Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
Drei Lieder der Ophelia, op.67
Texts: Karl Joseph Simrock, after William Shakespeare’s Hamlet
I. Wie erkenn ich mein Treulieb vor andern nun?
II. Guten Morgen, 's ist Sankt Valentinstag
III. Sie trugen ihn auf der Bahre bloss

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Early Songs
Romance - Voici que le printemps ce fils leger d'Avril (“Here comes Spring”)
Romance - Silence ineffable (Ineffable Silence)
Pantomime
Apparition

Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)
Mörike Lieder
Das verlassene Mägdlein (The Abandoned Maiden)
Erstes Liebeslied eines Mädchens (A Young Girl’s First Lovesong)

Martin Brody (b. 1949)
Reasons for Moving
Texts: Mark Strand
I. Keeping Things Whole
II. Another Place
III. A Morning
IV. The Garden