PRESS FOR MARGARET CARPENTER HAIGH
“…flawless intonation…perfect vocalism…”
Her warm, glowing soprano was superbly supported across its range with flawless intonation. Every mercurial change in the text was given life by perfect vocalism wedded to telling facial expression or physical gesture.
Haigh's performance was even more dramatic than that of the preceding Monteverdi! Her welded blend of superb vocalism and character impersonation was breathtaking. Simms' fingerings were amazing as he unleashed the full expressive potential of his theorbo be it melodic or dramatic.
Carpenter Haigh pulled out even more 'vocal stops,' giving a dazzling performance intensely supported by Simms on Baroque guitar, Biggs' harpsichord, and Krumdieck's cello.
"...a talent for character portrayal..."
Haigh has a bright, clear instrument, and a talent for character portrayal, which she put to good use in conveying the haughty disdain of Mazzochi’s Sdegno, campion audace.
Particularly excellent was Martino Pesenti’s Ardo, ma non ardisco in which Hargis and Haigh perfectly overlapped in their cries about alternately being consumed by desire.
"her voice marvelously blended a crystal clarity with warmth."
Maestro Moody has always added dramatic effect by having his soprano soloist deliver her recitatives during a striking entrance from the back of the nave. Lithe soprano Margaret Carpenter Haigh, in a black velvet gown, delivered this in spades while bringing her text with extraordinary clarity. Her body language during her air No. 18 "Rejoice greatly" practically burst with joy. Her voice marvelously blended a crystal clarity with warmth.
"...a superb, clear solo by soprano Margaret Carpenter."
“…a singing actress.”
Her performance was like listening to a fine actress from the Comedie Francais exploiting her plosive “p’s,” rolling “r’s” with venom, and making fine fretwork of her fricatives. Her intonation was secure, her coloratura agile and expressive. Her performance had something of the pleasure of seeing the varnish of centuries removed from a painting hither-to perceived as dull, which instead turns out to have bright colors and a breathing presence.
"...executed to perfection."
[Courbois'] Ariane is a perfect platform for Carpenter's strong and beautiful voice. She's powerful without ever being screechy, fluid but extremely precise. In the recit "Mias l'amour," her voice is echoed by the flute so closely that effect is uncanny. Particularly in the “Air Dieu des mers,” [Courbois] writes lifelike program music with a vocal line, a vocal line which Carpenter executed to perfection. The Gavotte, with soprano, from Lully's trios, was simple, delicate, and lovely. The whole ensemble worked carefully with each other to ensure perfect balance and intonation.
...the second half of the concert was Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre's Le Sommeil d'Ulisse from her ca. 1715 Cantates françoises. The first recit, "Apres mille," was singing speech at its best; the "Tempeste,' both in its playing and its singing, was fiery, wild, and dangerous. The "Air Venez Minerve" gave Carpenter some notable coloratura work on “Volez, volez,” at the end. The "Sommeil" was the high point of the piece – Haigh's playing was precise and stylish, using the harpsichord buff stop. Carpenter's voice and Troxler's flute blended together perfectly. Troxler breathed complete vocal life into her flute. Carpenter's sustained notes were effortless and unforced.
"...expressive power, exquisite diction, and a clear, flexible voice..."
Soprano Margaret Carpenter Haigh delivered these verses with expressive power, exquisite diction, and a clear, flexible voice that filled the Covenant’s large nave. Carpenter Haigh, who sings with such groups as Quire Cleveland and Apollo’s Fire and is pursuing a doctorate in Historical Performance Practice at Case Western Reserve University, skillfully negotiated the rhythms of Couperin’s lush ornamentation as well as adding flourishes and ornaments of her own. She showed a particular sensitivity to Couperin’s intricate textsettings and fastchanging harmonies.
Carpenter Haigh was accompanied by a continuo duo of organist Nicolas Haigh and cellist David Ellis. The Newberry Organ’s ample organ loft, at the rear of the nave, afforded the singer and continuo players excellent sight lines: the ensemble was beautifully coordinated.
Soprano Margaret Carpenter sang on the opening and closing selections by Charpentier and Clérambault, framing the violin sonata by Rébel and the Couperin. Margaret’s delivery is dramatic and her use of dynamics is astounding – so much of the time I did not feel like she was being accompanied by the instrumentalists but rather used her voice in the manner of a fine chamber musician, holding back when the melodic lines of primary interest were given to the strings and holding forth when it was her turn to be in the spotlight. Margaret’s interpretation is apparently informed by baroque gesture as well, and she makes use of hand and body postures to underscore the text.
"Haigh's clear, bright tone sailed out over the orchestra."
"...deftly and amusingly..."
“An Alice Symphony” is a transitional score, composed when Del Tredici was having doubts about his former style but was not fully ready to jump ship. An early installment in his expansive collection of works inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, the symphony is cast in four intensely theatrical movements, with a soprano soloist who alternates between declaimed narrative and virtuosic singing, and stretches of atonal, seemingly cacophonous orchestral scoring that evokes the bizarreness of Alice’s dream world.
Margaret Carpenter Haigh delivered the soprano line deftly and amusingly, and it cannot have been easy, given the stream of high Es in the final section, to say nothing of the frequent shifts from speaking to singing.
...the orchestra, under music director Robert Moody, did an excellent job with a difficult score, aided by soprano Margaret Carpenter Haigh, who is able to sing sweetly, bark like a yapping dog through a megaphone or read nonsense verses with equal aplomb. Del Tredici’s folk band, including mandolin and accordion, also worked effectively, as did an appropriately spooky Theremin.