Music review newspaper Novi list Recital -Nataša Antoniazzo – mezzo and Mia Elezović –piano, 30 July 2019 – 8th International Festival of Classical Music – Art Novi:
From the start of the third concert at the 9th International Festival of Classical Music Novi Vinodolski 2019 – Art Novi, within the first few introductory bars, the audience could immediately recognise the refined style of both artists. Their musicality and tonal harmony were extraordinary. Especially so with the performance of “Jeli”, a composition of Vatroslav Lisinski (one of the great 19th Century Croatian composers).
Franz Schubert’s sacred piece, “Litania” (“Litanei”), had that sublime authentic ring and emotive gracefulness. Next came the solo songs “Krik” (“A Cry”), “U zanosu” (“Bliss”) and “Ja mislim mila moja” (“I think my dear”) by Dora Pejačević, an outstanding Croatian composer of the ‘impressionist school’. The elegiac compositions were sung in a pliant, balanced voice covering the whole vocal range.
In the core of the concert the audience was treated to an inspired performance of Brahm’s Gypsy song cycle Zigeunerlieder op 103. Mezzo Soprano Nataša Antoniazzo sang eight very demanding songs which varied greatly in content and pace. Her refined voice performing effortlessly and impeccably with clear intonation. A superior and cultured performance engaging all her artistic experience was delivered by her logical legato phrasing, her firm interval jumps and defining staccato. It contrasted agogic and dynamics with crystal clear enunciation.
The evening was rounded off with Richard Strauss’ songs “All Souls’ Day” (“Allerseelen”) and “Morning” (“Morgen”) and with his brilliant Zueignung op 10 no 1 as the encore. The voluminous voice of the talented soloist resounded here with enrapturing expressivity. It was well rewarded by rousing applause of an enthusiastic audience.
Musicians and music lovers in German speaking countries jealously assume that the voice and a piano is an exclusive art form of German and Austrian composers. This belief is bolstered because the songs performed at concerts for the most part originated in Germany and Austria by the acknowledged Composers such as Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Hugo Wolf, Johannes Brahms and later Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss and others.
However, it does not mean that in the 19th century Europe there were no other composers of art songs. Edvard Grieg in Norway, Gabriel Faure in France, Peter Tchaikovsky and Modest Musorgski in Russia are just some of the names showing that the art song form was cultivated in many other European countries.
Mezzo soprano Nataša Antoniazzo and the pianist Mia Elezović clearly demonstrate on their latest CD that Croatia had also a rich tradition of art songs. The two artists included the songs of Vatroslav Lisinski (1819-1854), the composer who wrote the first Croatian opera Ljubav and zloba (Love and Malice) in 1846, then continued with Ivan Zajc (1832-1914), a Romantic-era composer, to the Countess Dora Pejačević (1885-1923), who was the composer of the first modern Croatian symphony. The choice on the CD is a wonderful representation of the 19th century Croatian art songs, often very beautiful and melodious.
link: REVIEW GERMANY KLASSIK HEUTE:
The latest edition of Antes Edition fulfills and obvious discographic void, since in the German speaking world we know very little about Croatian music. Apart from Countess Pejačević (1885-1923), whose valuable works were issued by the cpo record label and much deserving of a mention, we are unfamiliar with the other composers on this new CD.
The art song was evidently a very important form of music in Croatia both at the end of the 19th and into the beginning of the 20th century.
Besides employing patriotic lyrics, Croatian composers also turned German, Italian, French and Czech poems into songs. The selection on the CD includes eleven poems, with the focus on German ones. Of the eleven, one poem is from France, and only four of the chosen lyrics are from Croatia. Such a choice, though probably not representational, has obviously been selected to introduce Croatian music to foreign audiences.
Listening to the Croatian selection we can conclude that the Croatian art song was developed in parallel with those of Germany although clearly developing independently.
Both the themes and romantic stylisation of songs composed by Vatroslav Lisinski (1819-1854), have their roots in the bourgeois salon culture. The songs of Ferdo Wiesner Livadić (1799-1879) and of Ivan Padovac (1800-1873) resemble the works of Robert Schumann. Mediterranean and oriental influences can be recognised in their melody and rhythm.
Franjo Kežma, a violinist virtuoso who died extremely young (1862-1882) is featured here with his composition of Heine’s lyrics (“Du bist wie eine Blume”) and Lenau’s (“Bitte”). He undoubtedly strongly rivals the best of his German contemporaries.
Ivan Zajc, who was a successful opera composer also followed the Italian opera style. The influence of belcanto can be seen in his songs. Countess Dora Pejačević and Blagoje Bersa (1873-1834) are the representatives of the then Avantgarde and are influenced by the zeitgeist of the European fin-de-siecle.
Both artists, Nataša Antoniazzo (mezzo soprano) and Mia Elezović (pianist) are dedicated cultural representatives of their national music and demonstrate the variance in styles (especially the performance of the pianist in this regard). The mezzo soprano has a full, gently timbered voice, with practically pitch perfect phraseology in German. By using somewhat dark tones she renders the lighter songs more melancholic giving the whole recital a more defined and well-rounded presence.
Ekkehard Pluta [05.02.2019]
LINK: REVIEW OPERALOUNGE GERMAN MAGAZINE
Heinrich Heine’s “You are just like a flower” (”Du Bist Wie Eine Blume”) is a poem we would never expect in the collection of Croatian art songs. Besides Heine’s work, there are Goethe’s poems, the poems of Nikolas Laenau and “An die Tanne”, a poem from the Des Knaben Wunderhorn collection. In addition we have a cycle of four Anna Ritter’s poems set to music. Ritter issued her first collection of poems in 1900 and as a contributor to Gartenlaube (family newspaper) and to Stollwerck-sammelalben became a well-known name in German literature.
In September 2018 Croatian mezzo soprano and music educator Nataša Antoniazzo, together with the pianist Mila Elezović, recorded the works of seven composers who are virtually unknown to us (Antes BM319302). Probably the exception is Ivan pl Zajc (1832-1914), whose opera Nikola Šubić Zrinski from 1876, is still on a standard repertoire on Croatian stages. The second name is Vatroslav Lisinski (1819-1854), who composed the first Croatian opera Ljubav i zloba (Love and Malice) in 1846, as a reaction to cultural and political situation of the time. This was the first original and independent Croatian opera. The representatives of Moderna movement in Croatia are Dora Pejačević and Blagoje Bersa, whose works from the beginning of the 20th century give a very big role to the piano.
The Croatian art song presented on this CD mostly used the lyrics of German poets, to bring it closer to the international audience. The songs were composed in the fashion of the romantic bourgeoise salons, typical of the 19th century Europe.
Rich and powerful mezzo soprano of Nataša Antoniazzo puts dark shades on the melancholic atmosphere of the songs, reinforcing the melancholy in the lyrics, particularly in ”The Day of the Dead” and in the most extensive example “Seh duš-Dan” by Blagoje Bersa.
Cantus, Croatian Composers’ Society magazine, December 2019, Irena Paulus:
„….Her interpretation contributes to great emotional intensity, artistically tempered and restrained in keeping with the true professional artifice of an accomplished mezzo soprano. Nataša Antoniazzo brings it all wonderfully to life through carefully chosen techniques. She demonstrates brilliant elocution, regardless of the language in which she sings. Meticulous throughout the performance, her attention to phrasing and dynamics is highly accomplished. Her restraint in where to apply more or less vibrato, her sense of where to communicate strength of voice and where to transpose a softness and indeed a ‘thinness’, readily convey the true ambience and message of the music and lyrics.
In terms of outstanding musicality, Nataša Antoniazzo’s performance is a powerful invocation of how the atmosphere and dialogue of the pieces should be conveyed. The lyrical piano performance of Mia Elezović, endows all solo songs with a remarkable inherent strength, particularly ”An die Fruhlingswinde“ by Lisinski, which actually is his idyll “Večer“ (“Evening“) turned into a solo song.
The interpretations of Nataša Antoniazzo and Mia Elezović drastically change the conventional perception of Croatian composers of the National Revival period, embracing all from Livadić to Lisinski. These two musicians, Antoniazzo and Elezović, reveal that the works of the Croatian authors from the Early Romanticism were not created by insufficiently educated talents, but by exceptional authors who take their rightful place in the company of the elite world composers of the 19th century…”
Croatian art songs become a real discovery after experiencing the performance of the mezzo soprano Nataša Antoniazzo and the pianist Mia Elezović on the CD Das Kroatische Kunstlied. The reviews of the CD in the world have highlighted its quality and some of these reviews were published in the last issue of the Cantus. Every song is more beautiful than the other. Every one of them unique. They do justice to these composers and rightly represent them as significant and important artists and individuals in the world portfolio of music. Unfortunately, up until now, not enough attention has been paid to them in much the same way as the solo song genre has been sadly neglected. All now unreservedly deserve a place in music history.
CROATIAN RADIOTELEVISION – CROATIAN RADIO – CULTURAL NEWS:
“……..Natasha Antoniazzo , an artist with a beautiful voice and good technique was gradually freeing her Gipsy temperament with the culmination in the encore – a successful Sequedilla from Bizet’s Carmen.”
CROATIAN RADIOTELEVISION – CROATIAN RADIO – ‘SEVEN DAYS OF MUSIC’:
“……The warm coloration, but also the volume of the voice, clear pronunciation of the German text, and the somewhat old-fashioned air of singing, found a matching way in Schumann’s expression.
CROATIAN RADIOTELEVISION- CROATIAN RADIO:
“……Eight ‘Zigeunerlieder’ by Brahms, opus 103 brought more temperament, both on the vocal and the pianistic part, so that the songs like ‘Hey, Zigeuner’ or ‘Röslein dreie’ rendered the possibility of showing the bigger force and the penetrating power of Natasha Antoniazzo’s voice, which, as it seemed, suited her way of interpretation more.”
CROATIAN RADIOTELEVISION – CROATIAN RADIO- ‘SEVEN DAYS OF MUSIC’:
“The simplicity and softness of the melodic lines and harmonic interchanges, with an almost pop-song air of the songs, were slightly in opposition to the hardness in expression and formation of the Spanish verses, but the beautiful and clear coloration of the voice made up for it to some degree.”
Festival Baromus Rovigno – „La Voce“”:
“Natasa Antoniazzo,mezzosoprano, che si escibisce regolarmente sui palchi croati e all estero, si e presentata con la belissima aria di Cleopatra ” Piangero la sorte mia” tratta dall opera ” Giulio Cesare” di G.F.Haendel. L ha interpretata in modo particolarmente sentito con estrema capacita interpretativa.
CROATIAN RADIOTELEVISION- CROATIAN RADIO:
“…….and the simpler romantic atmosphere in which the coloration, the brusqueness and clear diction of Natasha Antoniazzo’s vocal performance was emphasized..”
GLAS ISTRE – NEWSPAPER:
“…….mezzosoprano Antoniazzo sounded extremely pleasant, technically balanced and stable, in terms of interpretation – inspired, musical and expert; in terms of scene – unpretentious.The applause of respect and gratitude for such an evening was long and loud.”
Review CD “Mignon”
Davor Schopf, Croatian Radio, Third Programme, The Life of Music, 31 March, 2017:
The mezzo-soprano, Nataša Antoniazzo is the only Croatian singer to have recorded a CD with German art songs for a foreign discography publisher. She has drawn on the invaluable several-year life and artistic experience in Berlin to achieve an album as an authentic interpreter of the Lied. Her selection, created with the pianist, Mia Elezović, encompasses four Goethe’s poems Mignon set to music by Franz Schubert, Ludwig van Beethoven, Pyotr Illych Tchaikovsky, Robert Schumann, Hugo Wolf, Alban Berg and Franz Liszt. The performances follow and suggestively express the prevailing ambience of Goethe’s verses – the longing for an ideal of peace, love and happiness, the unfulfilled desires, the yearning for hearth, solace, understanding of a kindred spirit – everything that Mignon had longed for was painted by the colours, registers and hues of Nataša Antoniazzo’s exquisite voice.
The distinction between the three Schubert’s songs and the same three by Wolf is easily noticeable; whereby the axiomatic restraint of expression, pertinent to Schubert, gives way to Wolf’s through-composed nature of poetic thought, embraced with appropriate colours of tonality, idiosyncratic harmony and rhythmicality of the piano accompaniment.
Of the four poems Kennst du das Land set to music – through vocal modulation, psychologically motivated declamation of verse and the synchronised piano accompaniment of the interprets – Beethoven’s stands out with a classicalist steadiness, Schumann’s with romanticist elegance, while the longing in Berg’s arrangement assumes dramatic proportions. Liszt’s romanticist songfulness is prominently appreciable in the piano accompaniment, as it is implied in the vocal interpretation.
The singer embellishes the distinctly emotional Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt by Tchaikovsky (in Russian) with her own Slavic sentiment.