by Timothy Robson
Susanna Phillips is on a roll: she recently starred at the Metropolitan Opera as Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, as part of conductor James Levine’s anxiously awaited return to conducting at the Met, and on New Year’s Eve upcoming she will star as Rosalinde in a new production of Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus. This past Monday evening, October 15, she presented a most unusual, but highly enjoyable, concert with collaborators Anne-Marie McDermott, piano, and Paul Neubauer, viola, as the first concert of the Cleveland Chamber Music Society’s 2013/14 season, at Plymouth Church of Shaker Heights.
The concert was unusual in a couple of ways. First, the pairing of soprano and viola is not commonly heard, but proved to be felicitous. Second, Ms. Phillips and friends performed a program of mostly “light” music – songs of an earlier era, intended to please and entertain and not stress the listener. Only one of the numbers was originally written for voice, viola and piano (more on that later). Most of the viola obbligati were found or devised by Mr. Neubauer, who is acclaimed in his own right as an orchestral musician and soloist. Mr. Neubauer and Ms. McDermott both had their opportunities to shine as soloists during the course of the evening. [Read more…]