Alto Rhapsody

Brahms’s strange, limpidly beautiful “Alto Rhapsody” calls for a vocalist with depth and clarity throughout her range. Amereau more than measured up. Her mosaic of clear and cloudy timbres enriched Brahms’s sweetly wandering melodies, fulling expressing the composer’s many dimensions of feeling and craft. Together with the orchestra she magnificently sustained the second section’s mysterious emotionality. In the final section the gorgeous redemptive strains of the men’s choir supported the cool tonal control she maintained high and low, and the hymn-like passages sounded fulsome and pure.
Speaking of whetted appetites, this listener intends to run, not walk, to the next performance by the exceptionally fine contralto Avery Amereau, whose dark, clear voice and profound interpretation of the Alto Rhapsody outclassed anything the orchestra had achieved to that point.

Blessed with an instrument of uniform timbre from its strong top to its rich lowest register, Amereau could do no wrong, holding listeners spellbound with long vocal lines and a freedom of nuance that responded to every inflection of Brahms’s unutterably sad and sweet music.

The orchestra and men’s chorus rose to the occasion, gently enveloping the soloist at the close and touching off a storm of applause for the gifted young artist.