“Hampson brings swagger, sensitivity to American songs with CSO”
“There is no finer advocate nor any living artist more committed to the cause of American song than the celebrated baritone from Elkhart, Indiana… Hampson brought tender sincerity and a striking freedom of phrasing and rubato to “Simple Gifts.” While he now has to artfully negotiate the high notes in “The Boatman’s Dance,” his hearty swagger was delightful, complete with drawled Yankee R’s. The singer’s storytelling qualities were manifest in a characterful take on “The Golden Willow Tree,” rendered with impressive agility”
“The eminent baritone Thomas Hampson was the featured soloist in the evening’s all-American opening, a superb choice considering that few singers have done more to champion art songs of this country. Better still, Hampson famously delivers this material with the polished tones one expects of European lieder but also with a distinctly American rhythmic lilt and cadence.
He proved the point in a suite of three of Aaron Copland’s “Old American Songs,” traditional tunes set to Copland’s original accompaniment. “Simple Gifts” stands as the most famous of these, thanks to its prominent appearance in Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” ballet score, but Hampson shed light on this familiar music. The sheer tenderness of his long-held notes, the crisp articulation of his every syllable and his subtly changing tonal shades brought new meanings to a universally known song.”