Soprano Benita Valente and pianist Cynthia Raim enthralled a Terrace Theater audience Friday night with a song recital that, within its sphere, approached perfection.
Four English songs by Haydn provided a refined opening and led to the late romantic lieder of Richard Strauss, including the gentle but sparkling "Standchen" and the deliciously lingering "Morgen."
Valente's light but always warm sound was ideal for the delicate emotions of "Das Verlassene Ma gdlein" and six other Wolf songs. And she found fire in abundance for seven passionate, often humorous Spanish love songs by Obradors. Among the four encores, Debussy's "Fantoche" provided a tantalizing taste of what Valente can do with French melody.
The concert was unconventionally billed a "duo recital," which turned out to be quite appropriate, for Cynthia Raim was an outstanding accompanist, sharing equally in the artistic effort.
Valente's consummate musicianship was enhanced by her consistently lovely and floating sound. But there was one flaw: Her tone showed not a trace of the most gutsy, human and emotionally satisfying part of the voice, the so-called "chest tones." In songs like Strauss' "Ca cilie" or "Einerlei" it was like hearing a fine orchestra with the double basses on strike.