An enchantress new to Washington wrapped the Terrace Theater audience around her little finger last night. Her name is Elisabeth Soderstro m and her art is of such intensity that it raised the question of who else in today's concert world could do what she does.
Although the audience was given texts for her songs, Soderstrom provided her own inimitable explanations of many of them with the charm of the consummate actress.
In Mussorgsky's cycle, "The Nursery," she became, by turns, the embodiment of the Russian nanny and mother, and then a naughty or injured child. But with all her enchanting gifts in speaking and acting, the greatest magic came when the radiant Swedish soprano sang. Her voice is an instrument of endless color with which she shapes words and notes to speak of grief or love, of wit or anger.
In six languages -- Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Russian, French and English -- Soderstrom offered songs by Sibelius, Grieg, Thrane, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Mussorgsky, Liszt, Gretchaninoff and Benjamin Britten. There was ecstasy in "The Answer" by Rachmaninoff, and a breathless catch in the voice when she sang Grieg's "Jeg elsker dig," which Hans Christian Andersen wrote in his hopeless love for Jenny Lind.
Soderstrom recalled Lind again when she sang Julius Benedict's "Greetings to America." The poem for the song won a competition announced by P.T. Barnum when he was preparing to present Lind in her first tour of this country. So derstro m told the audience, "Since this is my first time in Washington, I couldn't resist the temptation."
There is an individual timbre in this artist's voice and an individual technique in its use. Like other great singers, she bends it to her artistic will, creating a parade of shifting moods of striking character. Her art is completed by gestures that are mirrored in her singing. In all that she did, she was given beautiful support in the pianism of Thomas Schuback.