Baritone Samuel Bonds, whose warm and resonant voice is very much at home in the lyric repertoire, delighted a large and supportive audience with his recital at All Souls Church yesterday afternoon. In closing the church's 1982-83 concert series, Bonds presented a thoughtfully chosen program that emphasized, for the most part, his vocal strengths.
Beginning with arias from Bononcini's "Griselda" and Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte," Bonds displayed melodic sensitivity and a commanding presence that characterized the entire afternoon. The most gratifying moments in the program came in a group of four Debussy songs, where Bonds' lightness of color and rhythmic freedom matched the composer's supple lines to perfection.
Vaughan Williams' early cycle, "Five Mystical Songs," opened the program's second half. Supported by a small choir (which, curiously, was not allowed to sing most of the last song in the cycle), Bonds provided moments of great beauty, but the ethereal nature of George Herbert's poetry and Williams' unique language was largely absent. Recurring problems with intonation were partly to blame, a fault which likewise marred some of the Strauss songs heard earlier in the concert.
A group of spirituals brought a satisfying conclusion to a program made enjoyable not only by Bonds' talent and assured presentation but also by the secure technique and musicianship of pianist Ruth Locker.