Society for Ethical Culture

    If Ariadne, abandoned on Naxos, had lamented Theseus with anything like the power of Ewa Podles, the gods would have surely cowered and sent him scurrying back to her.
Ms. Podles, the remarkable Polish contralto, sang Haydn’s magnificent cantata “Arianna a Naxos” on Tuesday at the Society for Ethical Culture during a Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center concert.
With eyes blazing and head thrown back, she stormed through Ariadne’s lament with plaintive misery and crazed anger. Her voice, with its unusual timbre, easily cascaded up and down her three-octave range, from dusky, startling lows to powerful top notes. She had superb accompaniment from the society’s musicians in Peter Jaffe’s fine arrangement of the cantata for string quintet and harpsichord, which faithfully adheres to Haydn’s original version for voice and keyboard.
Ms. Podles also sang “Il Tramonto” (“The Sunset”) for mezzo and string quartet by Respighi, a setting of a desolate poem by Shelley. She was in her element with the declamatory, emotional vocal part, narrating the story of two lovers with dramatic fervor.

October 30, 2008

by Vivien Schweitzer