I heard Tamara Mumford in concert on March 29, 2021. She’s a young mezzo I’ve heard at the Met a few times, most memorably as The Pilgrim in *L’amour de loin* in 2016. She’s a special singer, I was looking forward to hearing her in a concert/recital setting.
The concert was presented on the Music Mondays series at Advent Lutheran Church in Manhattan. Her collaborators were pianist Adam Nielsen and musicians from the Met Opera Orchestra: Chelsea Knox (flute), Bruno Eicher and Sarah Crocker Vonsattel (violins), Shmuel Katz (viola), Kari Jane Docter and Julia Bruskin (cello), and June Han (harp).
They opened with the Mozart Flute Quartet, a lovely piece written for flute, violin, viola, and cello. They played it with warmth and style. It’s always a joy to hear chamber music where you can hear the players listening to each other, and you could definitely hear that with them.
Next they played a gorgeous string quartet by Puccini, “Chrysanthemums.” Who knew there could be so much drama in a bouquet of flowers? They squeezed every drop of juice out of the piece, it was thrilling to hear, it dripped with Italianità.
Mumford and Nielsen did four of William Bolcom’s *Cabaret Songs,* “Lady Luck,” “Angels,” “Blue,” and “Amor.” They performed these songs with the ideal mix of classical training and a divey vibe. And this isn’t a given, so I’ll say it was a treat to hear Mumford deliver every single word. It helps that Arnold Weinstein wrote words worth hearing, and Bolcom knew how to set them. Here's the Bolcom set from the concert:
The next set was a real treat, the world premiere of an arrangement by Jake Heggie of Debussy’s *Chansons de Bilitis.* I know these songs in their voice and piano version, and even performed them in my last recital before I left Madison, in July 2002. Heggie arranged them for flute, string quartet, and harp, and his arrangement certainly brought out many colors that aren’t available to the piano. Mumford’s French was sublime.
The same ensemble, minus Mumford, played the flutey entr’acte from *Carmen,* arranged by Desiree Elsevier. Tasty! The last piece on the program was an aria from Rossini’s *L’Italiana in Algeri,* “Cruda sorte,” in another arrangement by Elsevier, this time for voice, flute, and string quartet (hold the harp). Mumford sounded spectacular, she threw off the roulades like they were a blast and a breeze. Plus I love hearing a mezzo plunge into chest voice, what could be more thrilling than that.