Last weekend’s splendid concert at Ben’s Theater in Jomtien (“A Prelude to Valentine’s Day”) was given by two young and talented singers from the College of Music at Mahidol University, soprano Kamonporn Huncharoen (Pae) and mezzo-soprano Manasanun Aksornteang (Angel). They were joined by the talented pianist Yossral Songkiatkul and presented an interesting and well-chosen programme of art songs as well as numbers from some twenty-first century musicals.
The concert opened with a compelling performance by Pae of the well-known Habanera from Bizet’s opera Carmen. She has splendid stage presence and a confident style that immediately won over the audience. It was followed by Angel’s poignant performance of the Brahms song Wie Melodien zieht es mir supported by a finely judged piano accompaniment from Yossral.
Pae provided a beautiful performance of the song Still wie die Nacht by the German pianist and composer Carl Bohm who is little-known today, but whose music was hugely popular during his lifetime. Oddly enough some of his work appears under the curious pseudonym of Henry Cooper. Pae gave a remarkably good performance with beautiful tone quality, perfect intonation and pitched the notes with striking accuracy. Yossral brought out the counter melodies effectively in the piano part and this delightful performance was one of the highlights of the evening.
Other highlights were the several splendid duets from Pae and Angel. Their voices blended beautifully and it was a pleasure to hear singing that was not only perfectly in tune but also was sung with superb tone quality. One of the duets was the Mendelssohn song Auf Flügeln des Gesanges, one of his best-known songs. The performance was delightful and brought a round of cheers from the audience.
Another duet was Some things are meant to be from the 2005 musical Little Women which was based on the book of the same name by the American novelist Louisa May Alcott. Pae and Angel gave a joyous performance and worked superbly together with perfect timing, spot-on intonation and lovely phrasing.
Ghost the Musical was premiered in Britain 2011. Pae and Angel delighted the audience with their moving performance of the song With You, which showed the two singers on top form with perfect ensemble, excellent timing and impressive dynamic control. It was almost as good as their duet For Good from Stephen Schwartz’s successful 2003 musical Wicked. They brought a quiet sense of drama to the lovely song and demonstrated yet again their ability to sing together. This is not as easy as it looks, because it involves listening intently to the other singer, keeping closely in tune with them, anticipating how to time phrases together and how to create a sense of drama to the music by using pauses and careful timing.
Angel gave a telling rendition of Mahler’s song Liebst du um Schönheit with a good sense of timing and phrasing. She is not new to the concert hall. In 2012 she played Dorabella in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte and has performed major roles in works by Purcell and Mozart. She has studied in Vienna at the University of Music and Performing Arts where she has given many recitals. Angel has recently become a faculty member of the Voice Department at the College of Music, Mahidol University. Pae is also a member of the same department and holds both Bachelor and Master degrees. She has frequently performed with the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra in national and international events.
Angel gave an evocative performance of Ravel’s wordless song, Vocalise en forme de habanera. It’s intensely Spanish and a challenging piece to sing; a melody full of arabesques which bring echoes of the Moorish Spain of long ago. She received an enthusiastic audience response for her lively singing of I’m not Afraid of Anything from the theatrical song cycle Songs for a New World by Jason Robert Brown. It was a confident, stylish performance and was supported by a superb piano accompaniment from Yossral, whose rhythmic piano playing brought discreet foot-tapping among the audience.
Yossral has studied jazz and composition and is also a lecturer in the conducting department at the Mahidol College of Music. He is also a successful composer and music arranger and his superb accompaniments really brought another dimension to the wonderful concert.