Baritone Randall Scarlata, hailed by critics for his warm, expressive sound and winning way with audiences, will make his Chattanooga debut tonight, Feb. 20, at String Theory at the Hunter.
Scarlata will perform Schubert's "Winterreise, D. 911," a song cycle for piano and voice from a setting of 24 poems by Wilhelm Muller. He will be accompanied by pianist Gloria Chien, artistic director of String Theory, a chamber music series presented by Lee University and the Hunter Museum of American Art.
"Winterreise" is the second of Schubert's two great song cycles on Muller's poems, the earlier being "Die Schone Mullerin."
The selection will summon the intricate skills of both performers. The dramatic effect of "Winterreise" has been said to rival that of a full-scale tragic opera. Not merely a collection of songs on a single theme (lost or unrequited love), it is, in effect, a single dramatic monologue, lasting over an hour in performance and building in intensity to express the sorrows of the spurned lover.
The piano's rhythms mirror the moods of the poet and supply rich effects in the nature imagery of the poems -- the rushing storm, the crying wind, the water under the ice, birds singing, ravens croaking, dogs baying and the rusty weathervane grating.
Scarlata, based in Philadelphia, is known for his versatility. He is comfortable in Bach and Handel oratorio, Mozart and Rossini operas, song cycles, works from Tin Pan Alley and new compositions. His repertoire spans four centuries and 16 languages.
Chien is a tenured professor of music at Lee University, resident pianist with the Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston and director of Music@Menlo's Chamber Music Institute summer music festival.
The 6:30 p.m. concert will be preceded at 5:30 by Art Connection, a discussion of art and music by Ellen Simak, the Hunter's former chief curator, and Robert Bernhardt, conductor emeritus of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera. They will explore works from the Hunter collection that relate to the music featured in the concert to follow.
IF YOU GO
■ What: String Theory.
■ When: 6:30 p.m. today, Feb. 20; preceded by Art Connection discussion at 5:30 p.m.
■ Where: Hunter Museum of American Art, 10 Bluff View.
■ Admission: $35 individual; $25 donors, Hunter members and groups; $10 students.
■ Phone: 423-267-0968.
■ Website: stringtheorymusic.org.