Heidi Stober & Craig Terry
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Heidi Stober & Craig Terry

Weill Recital Hall

Soprano Heidi Stober’s Weill Recital Hall program on March 27 gave a glimpse into the artistry of one of today’s most exciting singers. With pianist Craig Terry, Stober compiled a program of songs by Haydn, Schubert, Strauss and Debussy that on the surface seemed run-of-the-mill but proved to be a rich display of Stober and Terry’s talents. 

Stober’s middle voice sounded velvety and luxurious in the folk-like melodies of three English songs by Haydn, with her radiant top blossoming in the songs’ most dramatic moments. Before the five Schubert songs, Stober explained that the set was crafted around Schubert’s “Der Zwerg,” a dramatic ballad in which a jealous dwarf murders the woman he loves after she abandons him for the king. The songs preceding “Der Zwerg” showed the development of the dwarf’s obsession that led to his crime, while the final song acted as a celestial epilogue for his victim. Stober’s “Gute Nacht” was gripping and vividly specific and Terry’s dynamic range encompassed the song’s impassioned, unpredictable Romantic temperament. In the context of the set, “Auf dem Wasser zu singen” became a siren song with Stober assuming the role of fatal seducer in a voice sinister and inviting. For “Der Zwerg,” Stober unleashed a dramatic edge to her voice and descended daringly into the lowest regions of her soprano for theatrical effect. The calm of “Im Abendrot,” with its final wish of “good night,” gave resolution to the tumultuous story. 

The theme of motherhood threaded together five songs by Richard Strauss. “Junghexenlied,” with its jaunty rhythms, onomatopoeic motifs and unexpected harmonies, brought out the playful side of Stober’s personality. She was passionate in a gorgeous reading of Strauss’s “Ich trage meine Minne,” soaring up and over the song’s climaxes, and then bared her soul completely, refreshingly, in “Mein Auge.”

In Claude Debussy’s song cycle Ariettes oubliées, Stober and Terry immersed themselves in the enigmatic poetry of Paul Verlaine and the gossamer harmonies of Claude Debussy, giving a delicate, nuanced interpretation without shying away from the exuberant energy of “Cheveaux de Bois”.  

For Jake Heggie’s From the Book of Nightmares, Stober and Terry were joined by cellist David Heiss. Heggie’s cycle of four songs on poetry by Galway Kinnell is an example of the American composer’s talent for storytelling through melody, texture and rhythmic energy. The tension in “You Scream” was shown in an introduction for piano and cello that lay in the instruments’ upper registers and gave impetus to the vocal line. Stober’s humor shined above the syncopation of “In a Restaurant,” before the trio dove into the exquisite melodies “My Father’s Eyes” and “Back You Go.”

The final set was titled “On Wisconsin” and comprised four songs that each represented something from Stober’s home state. The most interesting was “Of Cheese” by Henry Leland Clark, a love song to cheese for soprano and cello. Stober ended the recital with Alec Wilder’s jazzy “Milwaukee”, which she sang with a beautiful musical theater mix and an abundance of personality. spacer 


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