Friday, February 13, 2009

Anne Sofie von Otter: Another Cross-over artist from Opera to Pop

Last Wednesday night Anne Sofie von Otter (pictured) performed at Carnegie Hall in New York. In the review by Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times, it seems Ms von Otter did a wonderful job of feeling comfortable in both styles of music. There didn't seem to be any shift in her approach to the different styles, even though she switched pianists half way through the program to adjust for the styles.

In the first half of her program, with the fine pianist Bengt Forsberg, her longtime accompanist, Ms. von Otter gave sensitive, vibrant accounts of songs by Sibelius, Reynaldo Hahn and Schumann. After intermission she was joined by the jazz pianist and composer Brad Mehldau for the premiere of his “Love Songs,” a cycle commissioned by Carnegie Hall for Ms. von Otter. Though infused with jazzy rhythmic and harmonic elements, Mr. Mehldau’s work honors the heritage of contemporary classical song. And aside from bending phrases now and then with bluesy expressivity, Ms. von Otter did not make any real stylistic shift in her singing.

It seems yet another opera star shows she can be just as comfortable singing "pop" music as she can singing classical music. Perhaps some of these popular songs will enter the classical repertoire, even if they don't have the harmonic complexities of their classical counterparts. Sung by a polished professional with arrangements by a gifted composer the music takes on an enduring quality.

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