"An immaculate and inventive recitalist. The young American baritone has become a critic's darling for his mellifluous voice and sterling diction."--The New Yorker
ALL HUGO WOLF MÖRIKE-LIEDER PROGRAM
Baritone brings elegance, wit, to German art songs
"In the decade since he won the Naumburg Competition, Thomas Meglioranza has built a busy career, both in the opera house and in the more intimate confines of the recital stage. His baritone voice is both commanding and subtle, and he is a superb actor, but he is especially compelling as a recitalist, particularly in contemporary music, where his ability to win over an audience with his warm tone and interpretive astuteness has served composers well. But as he reminded listeners at Bowdoin College’s Studzinski Recital Hall on Saturday afternoon, he is also a fine interpreter of the standard art song repertory. [. . .]
Meglioranza grouped his selections thematically, more or less, with groups that looked at the poet’s meditations on the divine, the mysteries of night, and love and longing, with the final set a miscellany of peculiar scenes and observations. His voice is in fine shape, and admirably flexible: He drew on a range of techniques that ran from a harsh whisper (to evoke the hangover at the start of “Zur Warnung”) to a rich, full tone than projected nicely over the often busy keyboard figures. And more to the point, he moved through the vivid imagery of this varied collection with elegance and wit.
Uchida is also a player of considerable experience accompanying vocalists and instrumentalists, and having worked with Meglioranza for a decade, she knows his timbres and shadings well enough to play Wolf’s often complex piano lines assertively, secure in the knowledge that she was unlikely to cover the singer. Theirs is a superbly balanced partnership, and precisely what these evocative songs demand."
--Allan Kozinn (former NYTimes music critic), The Portland Herald, November 2015.
Baritone Meglioranza gives a passionate performance
"The wonderfully plummy baritone of Thomas Meglioranza enchanted a large crowd Sunday afternoon at Union College's Memorial Chapel as part of the Union College Concert Series. It was his debut on the series...
Meglioranza is a much awarded singer who is as much at home with the big oratorios as he is with the type of program he sang Sunday: selections from Hugo Wolf's "Mörike Lieder"...In all of them, Meglioranza was into character, focused, intense, passionate, charming, and used conversational gestures as if he were telling tales at a cocktail party. His richly resonant, big voice soared with ringing and often thrilling tones in blue hues, or dropped into deep purple bass notes. His breathing was unnoticeable. His phrasing was impeccable. Most impressive was his exceptional German diction.
Meglioranza's accompanist was the fine pianist Reiko Uchida, who has worked with him on three of his acclaimed discs. The crowd was so impressed with their partnership it surged the stage at intermission to purchase some of them."
--The Daily Gazette, December 2015 (read full review here)
(ONE OF THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER'S TOP TEN BEST CLASSICAL MUSIC PERFORMANCES OF 2009)
The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 23, 2009
Musical Oddities, Delightfully Sung
by David Patrick Stearns
Young singers can take the most chances in recitals, knowing that the audiences didn't pay the huge ticket prices that warrant a safe Puccini aria or two. But no singer I've encountered assembled such musical obscurities as baritone Thomas Meglioranza during Wednesday's Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital at the American Philosophical Society.
On paper, the program looked like a perverse joke - strange songs by long-forgotten composers and so-so ones by familiar figures such as Poulenc and Debussy, all hailing from the World War I era. The appeal wasn't nostalgia - the audience wasn't that old - but a tour through the attic of your eccentric grandparents in a 90-minute concert without intermission.
Oddest of all was a cycle of 30-second songs (and some even shorter) written by one Carrie Jacobs-Bond and consisting of little more than such homespun aphorisms as "Success never comes to the sleeping." There were songs about germs and Satan protesting the wars of mankind. We're talking cultural roadkill here, stuff that's best left behind in the era that spawned it except when sung by a fine singer and good strategist like Meglioranza.
Much of the delight (and there was plenty) was afforded by Meglioranza's healthy love of absurdity and folly that unexpectedly arise from something serious - all aggrandized with no sense of mockery. The fairly seasoned baritone (whom I've heard in Bach's St. Matthew Passion in New York) has an effortless sense of style that arises naturally out of the needs of the words and the music. He fluffed up the phrases of Rudolf Sieczynski's "Vienna, My City of Dreams" and found logic in fractured word settings of Charles Ives.
The unfussy beauty of his voice - his upper range suggests the tone of the great Gerard Souzay - makes him a phone-book baritone able to make the thinnest repertoire alluring. Few recitalists are so at home onstage with a physical freedom to thoroughly characterize the song without fear of possible embarrassment - particularly important in Poulenc's characterization of camels and lobsters in his "Le Bestiaire" song cycle.
Meglioranza didn't court the audience - with his Italian/Thai/Polish good looks he doesn't have to - but assumed that we were already friends and would like everything he did. And he was right, even in three potentially alienating atonal songs by Anton Webern that he introduced by describing them as so delicate that "I feel like I'm blowing bubbles." I'd love to hear him take on canonic works like Schumann's Dichterliebe. But at this point, I'd trust him in any program in which he trusts himself.
"He is a singer of forthright clarity, his voice powerful and resonant...Was it art or entertainment? By the end of the evening, marked by Meglioranza's earnest, compelling artistry, it hardly mattered."
--The Boston Globe, Oct 28, 2009
"Meglioranza has a rich, slightly understated baritone voice, perfect for Schubert, even better for Fauré. The latter composer, he said in astute introductory remarks, is a "secret garden" where intimacy and nuance take precedence over virtuosity and emotionality. All his singing operated on this subtle level. Ives's "scrapbook of childhood memories", as he called it, was invoked with a ghostlike evanescence." -- American Record Guide, Sept. 2013
Franz Schubert: Winterreise D. 911
Thomas Meglioranza, baritone; Reiko Uchida, piano (Thomas Meglioranza)
A self-released recording of Schubert’s popular "Winterreise" is a surprise hit from Thomas Meglioranza. An artist in residence at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass., with credits at Opera Boston, the singer displays a supple, beautifully polished lyric baritone and musical integrity.
Throughout the "winter journey," Meglioranza stays true to his natural, youthful sound, finding ample expressive range without ever forcing or using breathy affectations that are all too common. His diction is impeccable and pianist Reiko Uchida is equally refined.
Together, they create a fresh and moving vision of lost love and harsh nature, beginning with the trudging verses of the opening song, in which they go from stoic to snarling. Their storytelling excels in the light-dark shifts of "Frühlingstraum." Meglioranza’s detachment as he observes his "frozen tears" makes him seem slightly — and fittingly — deranged. You can hear the sorrow in his voice in the exposed "Mein Herz" refrain in "Auf dem flusse," but he never overdramatizes the music, maintaining dignity and realism. --Ronni Reich, The Star Ledger, February 2013
A New York new-music MVP puts his expressive stamp on a timeless Schubert song cycle
Schubert's lieder cycle Winterreise ("Winter Journey") can be a grim ride if approached as the marmoreal icon it's become in the art-song world. One of the strengths of the fine new recording by baritone Thomas Meglioranza and pianist Reiko Uchida is that although the implicit tragic love story is keenly traced and elaborated over in the span of two dozen songs, a sense of youthfulness and recurring hope against the odds provides some respite from the potential gloom. Meglioranza mines any and every opportunity for variety in Wilhelm Müller's text, which is beautifully articulated. Uchida, playing on a gorgeous-sounding 1881 Steinway, provides consistently supple and responsive rhythmic and melodic support.
The New Jersey-raised Meglioranza is an integral part of New York's new-music scene; Uchida, a Californian graduate of Mannes and Juilliard, teaches at Columbia. Both have broad artistic curiosity and experience, but very specific stylistic insights that prove complementary. The baritone easily encompasses the required range; plusher voices have recorded these songs, but his command of textual and dynamic nuance proves compelling throughout--plus, a hint of tonal fragility at climaxes doesn't come amiss in this love-haunted work.
--David Shengold, Time Out New York (Sept 2013)
"Meglioranza’s most unusual songs were a series of unaccompanied Holderlin settings by the contemporary Hungarian composer Gyorgy Kurtag. The singer managed to make his delivery of its complex details, unaided by a score, seem a spontaneous revelation of his innermost personal thoughts." --Sydney Morning Herald, November 2011
The New York Times, July 26, 2006
With Playful Wit, Thomas Meglioranza Shares His Old Favorites
by Steve Smith (view original article)
A free concert on a Monday evening, an auditorium off the beaten path--it was a perfect opportunity for the bright young baritone Thomas Meglioranza to shake off the conventional solemnity of the lieder recital, and simply indulge in a few of his favorites from the repertory he has performed with the pianist Reiko Uchida during the last few years.
Although he was not aiming for a particular theme, he said from the stage of the Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University, unbidden threads linked the six Schubert liecer that opened his recital. Four were based on texts dealing with aquatic themes--fisherman and boatman, river and whirlpool--and all featured persistently rippling accompaniment.
The introductory remarks established a relaxed, conversational tone that lingered throughout the concert, part of the River to River Feestival. Communicativeness was clearly the goal not only of Mr. Meglioranza's affable running commentary but also of his singing. He projected Schubert's finely honed vignettes vividly, deploying his burnished voice with exacting diction and dramatic flair.
More obvious connections surfaced in four songs by Debussy and three by Fauré. Most were based on poetry by Paul Verlaine, including settings of "En Sourdine" and "Mandoline" by each composer. To suggest that the sunny lyricism of the Fauré songs better suited Mr. Meglioranza's temperament is not meant to imply any shortcoming in his delivery of the more rarified Debussy settings. Ms. Uchida's playing in both sets was refined and exquisite.
Evidence of Mr. Meglioranza's playful intelligence came in the three American works performed between the Debussy and Fauré groups. Each played against type.
The prickly serialist composer Milton Babbitt was represented by "The Widow's Lament in Springtime", an achingly lovely William Carlos Williams setting, and "The Pregnant Dream" by Aaron Jay Kernis, a composer known for ecstatic instrumental scores was an athletic unaccompanied setting of a labyrinthine interior monologue. Cathy Berberian's "Stripsody", a manic catalog of cartoon noises, illustrated the cheekier side of the avant-garde, and even as Mr. Meglioranza read from a score, he reveled in the work's broad humor.
After the Fauré group, he returned to American music with "Nature Calls", three innovative miniatures by the eclectic young composer Derek Bermel. Mr. Meglioranza closed the program with "The New Suit", Marc Blitzstein's stylishly absurd paean to haute couture. His encore was an unembellished, heartfelt rendition of Carrie Jacobs-Bond's Tin Pan Alley chestnut "I Love You Truly."
Getting a collection of songs this disparate to stick together must have been tricky, but Mr. Meglioranza's handsome sound and congenial manner provided the necessary glue.
"Meglioranza had us in his hands to enjoy his sense of fun. The last line of his encore absolutely soared with a gentle ringing beauty and effortless quality of voice rarely heard anywhere. We floated out the door into the rain."
The Boston Musical Intelligencer
October 27, 2009
The New York Times, Monday April 21, 2003
Music Review/Thomas Meglioranza
Baritone at Home in a Foreign Land
by Jeremy Eichler
With clever programming the baritone Thomas Meglioranza began both halves of his Tuesday night recital with the same four lines of text from Joseph von Eichendorff's "In der Fremde" ("In a Foreign Land"). First there was the somberly beautiful opening of Schumann's Opus 39 "Liederkreis". The second was as a musical memory of the first, composed by Hanns Eisler as part of his "Hollywood Songbook". For Schumann the text suggested the inner exile of a soul in winter; for Eisler, who sets the words above a jabbing piano line, exile in Los Angeles in the 1940's was very real and aching.
The thoughtful linkage was one of the many pleasures in this Weill Recital Hall debut. Mr. Meglioranza, a 2002 Concert Artists Guild winner, may be young, but he already posesses a clear and warmly burnished voice. Accompanied by pianist Hsi-Ling Chang, he excelled in the song recital format, bringing to each piece a character and presence all its own. His phrasing was fluid and his diction exemplary in the Schumann and in the six Eisler songs.
Debussy's "Fêtes Galantes" was on the heavy side, but it worked as a prelude to "Plundered Hearts", a pair of new songs written for Mr. Meglioranza by the composer Jorge Martín, based on poems by J.D. McClatchy. The appealingly spare "Pibroch" was preceded by the striking "Fado", with used turbulent piano writing and dramatic melismas to capture the expressiveness of the eponymous Portuguese song style without resorting to mimicry. Rounding out the program were two witty songs by Marc Blitzstein, breezily delivered with charm to spare.
The Kalamazoo Gazette, January 24, 2011
BARITONE THOMAS MEGLIORANZA'S CHARM, VOICE WARM UP A WINTER'S NIGHT
It was a hardy cohort of concert-goers who braved one of the coldest, wintry nights of the season Saturday to attend the Fontana Chamber Arts presentation of baritone Thomas Meglioranza at Western Michigan University’s Dalton Center Recital Hall.
The program focused on musical settings by Robert Schumann and Gustav Mahler of Friedrich Ruckert’s poetry and poems from the large collection of German folk tales known as “Des Knaben Wunderhorn.”
Not only was there contrast in musical style between the early romantic Schumann and the quintessential late romantic Mahler, but the sophisticated angst of Ruckert’s poetry stood in stark contrast to the less artful Wunderhorn lyrics.
Meglioranza warmed up the audience by introducing each of the poems with commentary into its emotional depth and relevance to the lives of the composers. It was remarkable how he then transformed himself to fit the character of the song. His efforts were enhanced wonderfully by the impeccable accompaniments of pianist Reiko Uchida.
The entire concert had an incredible intimacy about it, as if Meglioranza had invited us all into the music room of his home. In part, the intimacy comes from his flawless diction and also his wide but tempered range of dynamics, as if he were singing to us in a smaller room. His voice is rich yet flexible with no discernible break from tenor to bass ranges, and his approach to each song was earnest and never cloying. The closest he came to the limits of good taste was in the Wunderhorn song “Die beiden Grenadiere” where two of Napoleon’s soldiers sing of their gallantry to the tune of the Marseillaise.
For an interlude between the Schumann and Mahler songs, Uchida was joined by violist Abhijit Sengupta, Fontana’s artistic director, to perform Schumann’s “Marchenbilder,” for viola and piano, Op. 113. A disparate collection of four short character pieces, the third movement with its non-stop, rapid passages in both instruments presents the greatest challenge to the performers.
Without doubt, Mahler’s “Ruckert-Lieder” were the highlight of the concert. The piano’s accompaniment in these songs is so un-Mahler-like in its thin textures and separation from the vocal melody. It challenges the singer’s intonation and sense of phrasing. Yet Meglioranza was at his very best in the morose “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen,” a setting that ever so slowly ponders the poet’s death-like isolation. Again in “Um Mitternacht,” Meglioranza did a most convincing performance of the poet’s overwhelming anxiety and his heroic recovery through faith in the end.
Mahler’s Wunderhorn songs range in emotion from the morbid “Das irdische Leben” about the starvation of a child to the whimsical “Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt” about St. Anthony preaching to the fish. The most musically interesting and Meglioranza’s most successful of the set was “Zu Strassburg auf der Schanz”about a soldier captured as a deserter and facing certain death. The soldier blamed the alphorn (wooden trumpet) for luring him away from duty. Here Mahler derived the musical setting from a typical alphorn call.
Meglioranza’s charm and the radiance of his voice were ample reward for those who braved the elements to experience this wonderful concert.
"...Mr. Meglioranza sang these pieces not only with a warm and clear tone, but also with a crystalline diction that afforded the listener a rare directness of contact with the chosen poems and lyrics...There was little common ground among the pieces, but the program was unified by the clarity of Mr. Meglioranza's presentation and the completeness with which he inhabited one work after another."
--The New York Times
"[an] exquisitely phrased, quietly passionate account of An die ferne Geliebte."
--The New York Times, 2009
"Meglioranza and [Jeremy] Denk offered a meltingly lovely rendition of Schumann's Stille Tränen...Schumann's subsequent happy fecundity found expression in four selections from Dichterliebe, lovingly and excitingly sung by Meglioranza, with Denk a superlatively alert accompanist."
--Steve Smith, Night After Night
This [Schubert Songs] is surely one of the finest recordings of Schubert Lieder you will find. Meglioranza’s handsome light baritone is perfect for the repertoire. He uses head tones often and most attractively. Only occasionally does he remind us of Fischer-Dieskau in this register. His German is perfect, showing almost the ease and clarity of a native singer. Ms. Uchida, playing an unusual restored Pleyel, which has just the right combination of harp-like clarity and richness for Schubert’s music and Meglioranza’s voice, combines lucid articulation, expressive color, and a balance of discretion and assertiveness. His lyrical, but richly colored and thoughtfully expressive performance of Das Lied im Grünen will stand with the greats. The recording is superb, providing just the right presence and balance of voice and piano with a lively sense of the warm acoustic ambiance of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, a favorite venue for chamber recordings. You will also notice that Mr. Meglioranza is a very active singer, as his voice floats discreetly around in the clearly defined acoustic space. This recording is an absolute must for Schubertians and pretty much anyone.
Michael Miller —Berkshire Review for the Arts, July 16, 2008
"There came your CD. Lovely singing. Let me tell you, that you gave me much pleasure on a healthy and beautiful sounding way with these difficult songs. Your accompanist [Reiko Uchida] is of the best qualitites, strictly in the style called for in these songs. Your German is excellant so that I assume you are of German ancestors." --Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
"The voice is supple, well-scaled, not overpowering but with strength where necessary. There was never a hint of stridency or forced production, and he gave an impression of relaxed ease with his instrument that was inviting. That he is also an intelligent musician was also evident, in the attention given to the choice of poetry and music and in the remarks that he gave about each set of songs..."
"Despite his youth, Meglioranza performed like a seasoned artist, establishing a comfortable intimacy with the audience, genially discussing songs and composers before each set and singing with a vibrance that was as dramatic as it was natural. . .The ride they [Meglioranza and pianist Reiko Uchida] provided their audience proved delightful from beginning to end."
--The Honolulu Advertiser, 5 December 2005
Linton Recital Lovely, Intimate
"Though he also does opera, oratorio and sings with orchestras, Meglioranza was to Lieder (songs) born. He possesses a smooth, focused baritone that illumes text precisely and an engaging stage presence to go with it. He and Uchida, with whom he performs and records, worked hand-in-glove on six Schubert songs. All of them dealt with winter and looking ahead to spring – ironically, as it turned out, said Meglioranza, considering Cincinnati’s uncharacteristically mild February.. .the highlight of the Schubert set, performed with drama and tenderness by Meglioranza and Uchida, was Viola..."
--MusicInCincinnati.com, Feb. 27, 2012
New York Concert Review
Thomas Meglioranza, baritone
Hsi-Ling Chang, piano
Merkin Concert Hall
October 29, 2002
Joy In Singing presented the recipient of their 2002 Award in his New York debut. Baritone Thomas Meglioranza fulfilled all expectations of those clamoring for a beautiful voice used for artistic ends. The repertory for tonight's program entertained no less than uplifted.
Meglioranza brought out a group of four Schubert masterworks, most often neglected. Totengräbers Heimwehe (Craigher) began the concert in forlorn demeanor, exquisitely modulated. Pianist Hsi-Ling Chang sheathed the truly apt accomapniment in velvets. Throughout the program, Ms. Chang was always at one with Meglioranza, changing gears effortlessly as the music demanded, maintaining her own personable charm to boot. Meglioranza was revved up from the very start. His sound is full, rich, and easily projected. The top range has that ineffable beauty associated with Irish tenors, the low reaches have remarkable core and pitch. Happily, the mid-range waxes glorious, serving him without fail. His youth did not prevent searching interpretations of each Schubert Lied, and perhaps helped justify the performance of Theodore Chanler's Eight Epitaphs (De La Mare). These are mostly musical trifles--the poetry may work better on the eye than in the ear--and one might blush to hear an older musician try to put them over.
Three rarely heard Lieder of Busoni followed. Each set to texts of Goethe, the first--Zigeunerlied--brought atypical mood to such-named music, that of unrelenting nervous energy. Few are the musicians who delve through the libraries and come up with such interesting and beguiling works by this composer.
Meglioranza's German was so on-target that I suspect within time he will relax a bit and leave the textbook behind. Then he will really sound freshly plucked from the Fatherland.
I would apply the same guess as to his French singing. Poulenc's Calligrammes (Apollinaire) opened the second half. No other composer writes with Poulenc's lush feel for the piano or the soaring melodic love that remains his trademark. Meglioranza and Chang joined to bring out all beauties inherent in these works. Particularly impressive was Aussi bien que les cigales ("As well as the cicadas"). I can't think of any other poet or composer who would find something inspirational to say about these vermin. Indeed, it was thoughtful of Meglioranza to provide a booklet of all the poetry in its original and English translation.
All devotees of art song look forward to performances of Ned Rorem's War Scenes (Whitman). Apparently, Mr. Rorem keeps an eye out as he was among the eager listeners tonight. These five songs sit within the bedrock of 20th century American music. They require more than a good voice, more than well-honed study. Whitman's prose in Rorem's insightful settings tells a story not only of personal witness to the gore of our Civil War, but also a universal lamenting the death of innocence and the crying out of soul against horror. Making use of recitative, exclamation, and melody in equal quantity from the singer, the piano writing is no less rich and meaningful in illustration. Meglioranza did a splendid job in relating these Scenes --and they truly are "scenes", not merely songs--and to judge by Mr. Rorem's pleased demeanor, the composer's stamp of approval seems likely. . .
To end the program, Meglioranza brought us two songs of Blitzstein. Emily ("Ballad of the Bombadier") and The New Suit. In these we were treated to performances that left one smiling and admiring of the wild creative streak belonging to Blitzstein, and the absolute understanding and ability with which Meglioranza brought them to life. No one doesn't like Blitzstein; if a frog could be trained to enunciate, an audience would assemble. To hear these songs so theatrically celebrated by Meglioranza was a great tickle. As if to out-do himself, he sang the lovely Stay In My Arms by the same composer for an encore.
Mr. Meglioranza is in demand for recitals, opera, oratorio--his bio leans heavily on the Baroque--but with his winning personality and abilities of stunning variety, he could easily draw minions for musical comedy, or anything else that strikes his fancy.
"an unusually sensitive interpreter of English-language song"
--The New Yorker
Franz Schubert's Winterreise
Winner of the 2005 Walter W. Naumburg Competition, the Franz Schubert/Modern Music Competition in Graz, the Concert Artists Guild Competition, and the Joy in Singing Award, baritone Thomas Meglioranza, in this unabashed vanity issue, has given us one of the best modern recordings of Schubert’s genre-defining Winterreise. His voice is simply ravishing in all registers, a haunting, despondent, creamy, and melismatic instrument that seems tailor made for Schubert in general and this cycle in particular. Meglioranza’s impeccable diction serves to characterize every nuance of the text so to make subtle inflections and profoundly deep emotional connections to each of these wondrous songs. Uchida plays on an 1881 Steinway D Centennial, and accompanies with force, formidable sense of supporting the melody, and a cat-like ability to give depth and proper harmonic undergirding to the line—she is there at every moment, never dragging and never behind.
Schubert’s opus, published as Op. 89 in 1828, is a setting of 24 poems by Wilhelm Müller. It was written in two parts, about six months apart, and originally published that way. Schubert elevated the piano in this cycle, where his harmonies, always expressive of mood and setting, are taken to a new level, but this time with the additional of subtle and highly expressive rhythmic elements as well, something new in lieder writing that adds complexity and infinite gradations of expression to the setting as a whole. The work is gloomy, even tragic, but deeply redolent of the most esoteric qualities of high Romanticism, and the composer was very happy with it.
The qualities that we all like to hear in any Winterreise are present here in overwhelming quantities. As I said, this sumptuously recorded performance is engrossing and completely convincing from beginning to end. There are no notes but Meglioranza has seen fit to give us texts and translations. This is a first class issue all the way, and the established record companies are really going to be sorry they didn’t pick this one up.
--Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition