A soprano who programs Berlioz's "Les Nuits d'e'te'" in the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater 48 hours before the powerful song cycle is to be sung in the same building by Kiri Te Kanawa is either bold or a fool.
Last night, in a recital sponsored by the Korean Concert Society, Jung Ae Kim certainly didn't sing like a fool. Kim has had a considerable career in this area and she is a sensitive, sophisticated recital artist.
The Berlioz had style, lovely tone and good diction. If something was lacking it was the sense of desolation and devastation in a song like "Sur les Lagumes" ("On the Lagoons") that makes this cycle the direct antecedent of the Mahler songs of death that came a half-century later.
There seemed to be a greater feeling of loss and anguish in Kim's earlier performance of four Brahms songs. Kim seemed able to shade her voice more delicately in these German songs than in Berlioz's French.
She also sang John La Montaine's difficult "Songs of the Rose of Sharon," which are in English. Kim conveyed the message of frustrated love convincingly and William Huckaby coped well with the piano part.
The only work in which Kim seemed out of her element was the aria "Piangero la sorte mia" from Handel's "Julius Caesar." She had trouble with the coloratura runs and failed to make the alteration of moods very vivid.