Tom Krause's baritone, which has carried him to most of the world's leading opera houses, served him well in the concert hall of the Kennedy Center last night.
In two songs by Schubert, six by Brahms, and the "Dichterliebe" by Schumann, the Finnish artist sang with obvious affection for the idiom. A warm sympathy touched his reading of "Der Tod, das ist der kuhle Nacht," as it often did the Schumann songs.
Krause fully understands the rise and fall of these songs, and his voice reflects his knowledge. There are, however, places at the top of his range where the tone tends to recede and to lose its natural resonance. Since these phrases usually arise in moments of greatest musical or dramatic impulse, the effect is often dampening.
For his one non-German group, Krause sang Ravel's marvelous cycle, "Don Quichotte a Dulcinee." Adopting a lighter, higher tonal approach, he did some handsome things. But the words were often muted and the effect of the songs not completely realized.
Irwin Gage's piano was frequently veiled in sound, as if to match the quality of the singing tone. He was at home in the entire repertoire, adding, as in the Brahms "Der Tod," a special beauty.