Soprano Patti Peterson, tenor Scot Weir and their excellent accompanist Terese Stewart have worked up 33 of the 46 songs of Hugo Wolf's "Italienisches Liederbuch" into a marvelously dramatic and human presentation.
They performed at the University of Maryland's Tawes Recital Hall to an audience of about 17 privileged people last night and gave them a stunning lesson in the art of lieder singing. Neither Peterson nor Weir has a particularly outstanding voice. Peterson in particular has a big, rather diffuse sound. But both artists have enormously expressive vocal arsenals. Their diction is perfection, and they brought to these splendid gems the most fruitful musical imagination.
The songs were grouped to give some sense of dramatic evolution, from awakening love to misunderstanding, to separation and anger, and then, finally, to reconciliation. There were moments of delicious humor, the juxtaposition. "Hoffa rtig seid Ihr", "You are so proud, so high and mighty, and you cost too much," Weir sang, answered by the delightful "Ich hab' in Penna," "I have a lover in Penna, four in La Fratte and 10 in Castiglione," and moments of real tenderness.
With two exceptions the songs alternated strictly between the two singers, producing a predictability that did not add to the flow of the drama, and there were some very undramatic gaps between songs in the first half of the program. But these were small flaws in an otherwise fine evening of music.