Music review

Review: D.C. debut of soprano Carolina Ullrich at Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

ENCORE! Audiences, thankfully, haven't heard the last of Carolina Ullrich.
ENCORE! Audiences, thankfully, haven't heard the last of Carolina Ullrich. (Andrew Chiciak)
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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Young Concert Artists chose a winner in sponsoring the Washington and New York debuts of Chilean German soprano Carolina Ullrich. On Tuesday she sang at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. Next month comes Manhattan's Merkin Concert Hall. She has also just received a two-year contract with the prestigious Dresden State Opera. The YCA, established a half-century ago by Susan Wadsworth, has launched such brilliant careers as those of pianist Emanuel Ax, violinist Pinchas Zukerman, cellist Carter Brey and soprano Dawn Upshaw, along with the Mendelssohn, Tokyo and St. Lawrence string quartets.

Ullrich's performance suggests a promising future with intimate recitals and on the operatic stage. Her challenging program included a heady mix of songs covering four centuries and four languages. She shifted with seeming ease between styles and ranges, highlighting her technical versatility and sensitivity. Opening with a wildly ornate setting of Purcell, she continued with lieder by Schubert, Richard Strauss and Wolf, then closed with songs by Reynaldo Hahn and Joaquin Turina.

For the Schubert and Strauss, Ullrich's formal stage presence underscored the German lied's contained intimacy, yet her supple, reverberant voice deeply probed into the musical inflection of the words. More exuberant body language captured Wolf's succinct comic irony. With the Hahn and Turina songs, she assumed a truly operatic bearing, skillfully sustaining sound while letting it grow or fade as the text implied. Ullrich's intelligent, attentive pianist, Marcelo Amaral, aptly balanced his role with hers.

-- Cecelia Porter


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