‘Impassioned’ and ‘significant’ performances in Florida

“Sunday afternoon, Hampson brought a sampling from the spectrum of American song and a major vocal-orchestral work by John Adams to the New World Center in Miami Beach . . . He opened with My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free . . . In superb form, Hampson’s warm, resonant baritone and innate feeling for the idiom were entrancing. With the audience in the palm of his hand, he launched into a rousing version of The Dodger from Aaron Copland’s 1950 collection of Old American Songs . . . In Flanders Fieldcontrasts the once beautiful poppy fields with the multitudinous crosses of the dead. Hampson’s superbly clear diction, attention to dynamics and impassioned advocacy mirrored the songs’ uneasy contrast of patriotism and tragedy.

Following intermission, Hampson was joined by conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and members of the New World Symphony for Adams’ The Wound Dresser . . . Now stentorian, then dulcet, Hampson imbued Whitman’s imagery and the lyrical vocal writing with understated emotion. His voicing of Come sweet death, come quickly was chilling.”

Lawrence Budmen – South Florida Classical Review

“For more than three decades, Thomas Hampson has been a major presence on the world’s opera and concert stages . . . the American baritone has always brought vocal artistry and keen musical intelligence to his wide repertoire. No less important has been his dedication to lieder and art song. Hampson’s championing of the neglected vignettes of American composers has been particularly significant . . . Hampson offered a musical tasting menu of the many strands that form the classical songbook . . . he evoked the aura of romance beneath “Freundliche Vision,” the high pianissimos beautifully controlled. “Mein Herz ist stumm, mein Herz ist kalt” was almost a recitation, Hampson carefully weighing the conflicting emotions of Adolf von Schack’s text. “Sehnsucht” was a full voiced paean to memories of love lost and Hampson imbued “Ruhe, meine Seele” with deep, almost bass like tones, finely registering a man’s request for inner piece . . .

Hampson reprised the new song cycle Civil Words by Jennifer Higdon which he premiered at Carnegie Hall . . . Hampson’s superb vocal acting and clear enunciation contributed to the work’s strong impression. For the second half of his program, Hampson assayed highlights from his “Songs of America” tours and recordings . . . Hampson’s virile baritone took full cry in the warrior’s opening war call but he brought depth of tone and pathos to the ensuing death song, the dramatic piano chords turning soft and tragic . . . “Shenandoah” was vintage Hampson, the tones warm and lustrous. He has long been a master interpreter of Copland’s Old American Songs and captured the wit and irony of “The Dodger” and the swinging rhythm of “The Boatman’s Dance.”

Lawrence Budmen – South Florida Classical Review