It’s not often that the music of England’s Henry Purcell rings out in Jomtien, but it did last weekend at Ben’s Theater when the two sopranos Kamonporn Huncharoen and Sasinee Aswajesdakul opened their concert with Purcell’s stirring duet Sound the Trumpet. Written in 1694, it comes from a musical ode written for the birthday of Queen Mary II. Originally scored for two counter-tenors, the voices imitate the sound of trumpets and the song calls for careful vocal control on the long notes and a great deal of agility in the middle section. The singers gave a splendid performance with excellent articulation and rich soprano tone.
Both singers are from the College of Music at Mahidol University. They were both born in Bangkok and both started singing at the age of ten. Kamonporn won the first prize in “Celebrating His Majesty Singing Contest” in 2005, and in the following year she won the second prize from the “Musical Compositions of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadaj Singing Contest”. She is now continuing with her Master’s Degree in vocal studies and working as part-time vocal instructor at Mahidol.
(From left) Morakot Cherdchoo-ngarn, Kamonporn Huncharoen, Ben Hansen and Sasinee Aswajesdakul.
Sasinee Aswajesdakul entered the Mahidol’s College of Music at the age of thirteen in the Pre-College Program and is currently a fourth year undergraduate student majoring in Classical Vocal Performance. Since May 2010, Sasinee has received full scholarships with the highest score from the College of Music at Mahidol University.
Sound the Trumpet was one of four duets and in many ways they were the musical highlights of the evening. The well-known Barcarolle from The Tales of Hoffman by Jacques Offenbach was one of their most compelling performances, sung with a fine sense of ensemble. It went down well with the audience too. The duet Sull’aria…che soave zeffiretto from Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro again showed Kamonporn and Sasinee in excellent form with assured ensemble, phrasing, assured audience contact and excellent characterization of the opera roles.
Kamonporn’s first solo in the programme was the waltz-like Mattinata written in 1904 by Ruggero Leoncavallo, the first song specially written for the Gramophone Company, later known as HMV. She sang with striking tone quality and was pleasingly confident on stage. She later gave a dramatic performance of Franz Schubert’s narrative and technically challenging song Erlkönig. This is a difficult work but she was brilliantly supported by pianist Morakot Cherdchoo-ngarn who is a fine concert pianist in his own right. The piano accompaniment requires enormous dexterity to play the repeated triplets in the right hand while the left hand has to cope with a repeated theme in octaves. Throughout the concert he proved a remarkably reliable and thoughtful accompanist who seems to be getting better and better.
Kamonporn’s performance of Mozart’s song Das Lied der Trennung was lovely, quietly controlled and thoughtful. Her voice seems at its best in the quieter sections and she captivated the audience with her singing of Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante from Bizet’s Carmen. It was a melancholy, reflective performance and one of her best contributions to the evening.
Sasinee’s first solo was the intense and moving Widmung by Robert Schumann, from a set of twenty-six songs composed in 1840 and always a favourite with audiences and singers alike. It was given a beautifully controlled performance and the quieter sections were especially telling. In contrast, she provided a spirited and competent performance of Sullivan’s Where the Bee Sucks, from the incidental music to Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It was followed by a captivating performance of the well-known waltz, Il Bacio with finely articulated playing from Morakot.
Perhaps her best performances of the evening were of Puccini’s Quando m’en vo and Mein Herr Marquis, the famous waltz from Die Fledermaus, both sung with great enthusiasm and verve. Sasinee has a remarkable voice for one so young, a full rich tone quality and accurate intonation.
Both Kamonporn and Sasinee performed with tremendous confidence and with plenty of eye-contact with the audience, which is so essential because it draws everyone into the musical performance and makes the concert so much more rewarding.