In a short recital at All Souls Church yesterday afternoon, soprano Ellen Lang confirmed the strong impression made at her National Gallery recital earlier in the season. This young singer is rapidly blossoming into a mature talent ready to tackle major challenges.
Lang's large, sensuous voice possesses a vibrant richness throughout its range. Her sound unfolds with a thrilling freedom and flexibility and, increasingly, a thoughtfully shaped contour. Obviously a singer blessed with intelligence and the will to work, Lang has made enormous strides even within the last few months in refining her control over this big instrument of hers. Her capacity to sustain the intensity level of softer phrases has dramatically improved and the variety of vocal colors has noticeably increased.
Lang would now seem to be at the stage where the primary task is mostly a matter of carrying on with her solid and impressive development. She needs to keep delving into the music and into her own resources in order to find more of the details that hold the key to a truly moving performance. Her ability to vary the weight and tone of her voice--nicely demonstrated yesterday in some songs by Dominick Argento, Joaquin Rodrigo and Xavier Montsalvatge--still needs heightening. Dynamic contrasts need both sharpening and focusing, and there is a world of softer effects waiting to be mastered, particularly the quiet, sustained line--always one of the biggest challenges for a singer.
Not surprisingly, excerpts from Schumann's "Frauenliebe und Leben" gave Lang the most difficulty. With the vocal aspects in hand she has made solid inroads into the songs' expressive core and will no doubt deepen her interpretation as she lives with the music. It should be exciting to follow her growth in this material and whatever else she takes on.
Pianist Frank Conlon offered consistently sensitive support to Lang throughout the program.