Baritone impresses with technique – Charl van Heyningen –

“Die Burger” 25 Sept 2012, P.10

Insomnia: A Nocturnal Voyage in Song
William Berger (Baritone) and Albert Combrink (Piano)
St. Andrews Presbyterian Church – Greenpoint

During a newspaper interview the late Marita Napier once lit up a cigarette. “How can you smoke and sing?” asked the shocked young journalist. “Technique, darling. Technique”, said the opera diva in her typically laconic manner.

And technique is precisely what the British Lyric Baritone William Berger displayed brilliantly when he delighted an appreciative audience for more than 90 minutes. Only a dry mouth and an intermittent cough and splutter gave away that Berger was suffering from a stubborn cold.

The voice is well-schooled, focused, slender, light and warm with a fast vibrato that falls well on the ear. Especially in the shimmering middle-high register it really comes into its own.

The cleverly compiled programme, in celebration of Berger’s first Solo album, covers a large spectrum, from the Viennese classical era to the contemporary. It comprises 17 songs that tell the tale of a man in love experiencing a sleepless night. It starts with Mozart’s Abendempfindung and ends with Morgen by Ricahrd Strauss. In between there is Debussy, Ravel, Faure, Schubert and quite a few songs by Wolf, for whom the singer obviously has affection. A personal favourite was Oh! Quand je dors by Franz Liszt, sung with an exquisite legato and toe-curling falsetto. Berger’s ability as an interpreter is very good and he always is up to the musical demands, whether it be dramatic or drifting lyrically. And his operatic encores at the end were fun.

Albert Combrink’s accompaniment was sensitive, supportive and never overpowered. The church shrank to the size of a lounge with ten or so standing lamps which contributed to the nocturnal mood.

My own negative criticism is that Berger spoke too much, too fast and often not audibly in between the numbers. Hopefully we will soon be able to enjoy this comfortable, charming and truly gifted singer again. The leading Gramophone – magazine calls him one of the best young baritones in the world. No wonder.

Charl van Heynignen

Translation of the Review by Charl van Heyningen in
“Die Burger”
25 September 2012, P.10

Read more about the recital HERE.

Buy the CD Insomnia: A nocturnal voyage in song with William Berger and Iain Burnside (Piano) HERE.

Visit William Berger’s Website HERE.

Visit Delphian Records (William Berger’s Record Label for the Album Insomnia) HERE.

Visit the St. Andrews Concert Series HERE.

William Berger

William Berger