(2008) Phoenix Edition 130
Susan Narucki, soprano
Ilana Davidson, soprano
Richard Clement, tenor
Christopheren Nomura, baritone
Linda Hall, piano
"Finally Ernst Krenek's delightful comic opera What Price Confidence, which I heard in 1989 during a two-week Krenek Festival at the Universitiy of California in Santa Barbata, is now on a CD complete with Krenek's English libretto.
I never forgot the magical impression this gem-of-an-opera left on all of us fortunate enough to be in attendance. The "question of confidence" (the pivotol element in this opera) is the source for intrigue and drama in regard to the life of two couples in London around 1900.
Musically Krenek quotes the bells of Big Ben, and hints at the British national anthem. Rhythmically and harmonically it's very complex, but the composer's ingenious trick here is that melodically it comes across as being very easy, which dramatically enhances the effectiveness of the characters, whether they are going to the dentist, a museum or pondering death.
The four singers are absolutely marvelous. The soprano Ilana Davidson as Gloria, soprano Susan Narucki as Vivian, tenor Richard Clement as Richard and baritone Christopheren Nomura as Edwin, vividly express the emotional responses of the characters which they portray.
This minature opera, which is accompanied by the outstanding Metropolitan Opera pianist, Linda Hall, who illuminates Krenek's delightfully intriguing ideas, is highly engrossing - a lot happens and it's fast-paced from beginning to end.
As an additional treat, these same artists add three sets of songs by Krenek to complete this CD. Ilana Davidson`s interpretation of the Three Sauter Songs is very expressive and beautiful in this very demanding late work, op.216. Susan Narucki, who sings the first and fourth, and Richard Clement, the second and third, of the Four Songs on Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins, express exquisitly the meaning of Hopkins abstract poetry.
These songs, op.112, were written right after What Price Confidence, op.111. Christopheren Nomura brings out the drama wonderfully in the Three Songs on Poems by JW Goethe. These very tonal songs, op.56, are the earliest Krenek work on this CD. Here again, Linda Hall supports powerfully with keen perception these idiomatically different songs..."
- Carolyn Horn