Mezzo-soprano Rose Taylor, who sang yesterday afternoon in the Phillips Collection, brought her listeners a mixture of songs and languages.
Accompanied by pianist Thomas Reilly, Taylor sang Dvorak's Gypsy Songs in German, five songs by Charles Ives in English, Debussy's Chansons de Bilitis in French, and a closing group of nine Rachmaninov songs in Russian.
Taylor's voice is at its most attractive in such quiet lower phrases as those that frequent the Debussy songs and some of the Rachmaninov. It is a mezzo of good quality, but from the evidence of yesterday's concert, somewhat restricted in range and freedom.
Where a placid atmosphere is appropriate, the singer made some lovely effects. But throughout the upper ranges, a distinct tension moves in at the same time that words, in whatever language, disappear.
Thus the recital was most effective in pages of Debussy and Ives, and some Rachmaninov, but far too much of the time lacking in power or any long, sustained phrases.
Taylor is far too fond of arm-waving and other gestures that distract, while they offer no substitute for better vocalism.
Reilly played the Debussy songs with an exquisite sound. But, perhaps following the singer more politely than he should have, he offered none of the thrust and strong forward motion needed in Rachmaninov.