The Elizabethan age had few rivals in either eloquence or subtlety when the subject was love's pains and pleasures. Tenor Charles Bressler and Richard Ullman, on the guitar and lute, beguiled the audience at the Phillips Collection yesterday afternoon with a program centered about some of that age's more exquisite outpourings.
Though it was their first appearance at the Collection, the two men are scarcely strangers to Washington. Bressler has been a soloist in the city on numerous occasions over the years, and Ullman taught and performed here in the early '70s. Their partnership proved ideal, generating delicately shaded exchanges in which each inspired the other. Bressler's sensitivity to words was echoed by Ullman's response to line, and both were expert at coloring their instrument to reflect the music's shifting emotions.
Bressler's sweetness of sound and impeccable projection of the text, coupled with a sure sense of timing, turned each song into a special moment. The opening works by Thomas Campian were a series of pleasures, in which humor, passion and sorrow were sketched with quick skill and the same could be said of every set, including the closing group of folksong arrangements by Benjamin Britten.