There are very few instances that inspire me to drive through the miserably bleak, homophobe-riddled flatlands that make up most of the state of Ohio. I half expected to see a rally (relax guys… a Romney rally), but alas, no such luck. The reason I drove to Cincinnati last night? Simple. An old friend’s masters recital. To those of you who don’t know what the fuck that means, let this music nerd enlighten you: while everyone else in higher education takes a board or writes a thesis and can toil over a word document or a spreadsheet, musicians have to prep for an hour long performance in multiple languages in front of ALL of their family and friends. No big deal. Oh, and if you screw up? You fail. And that can happen.
Gino and I met when we were in grammar school in Buffalo, NY. In our pudgy youth, we huddled into a backyard shed of a local art teacher to learn figure drawing once every other week. Surrounded by space heaters, we sat on bags of gardening soil and drew anonymous faces while sticking our tongues out at each other. So, in a word, we were pretty much set up from the start by our parents to be turbonerds. It’s like our moms got together over coffee to discuss how we would both be super chatty homosexuals whose lives would forever intertwine. We went to undergrad together, he a few years behind me, and then he ended up at some shitty music school in Cincy. Oh, CCM? One of the top graduate music programs in the country? Whatevs. And I may be a little bias about the recital I saw last night, but let me give you a summary and you can decide for yourself.
Pinzone started his program with “Quel Torrente che Cade”, an aria from Handel’s Giulio Cesare and honestly, one of my favorite all time jams. He owned the melismas and when he came back to the A section (it followed standard ABA format), his embellishments, though extremely complicated, seemed effortless. So after he showed us how much of a boss he could be at the technical shit, he sang a set of lieder by Franz Schubert. In case you don’t know anything about German poetry, here’s a synopsis: your long lost love is dead, you are poignantly devastated, and you don’t let on about her death until the last stanza of the poem. Until then, it’s all jellybeans and stickers and pastoral scenes. Huzzah. Lieder. And it was poignantly beautiful.
Okay, Pinzone’s Duparc set pretty much made me orgasm in my church pew. Henri Duparc was a French composer in the latter 1800’s, and I like to think that if he was born a little bit later he could have done some serious damage with “Les Six”, a faggoty group of composers in France who fought with their personal eccentricities and insanely prolific composing the overwhelming force that was Germany’s Richard Wagner. (If you don’t know who that is, google it. I can’t do everything for you). Decadent chord swells complimented Pinzone’s depth of expression. I could have listened to another hour of French, and that’s saying a lot.
Pinzone ended his recital the way any baritone should, with some Benjamin Britten. One part pastoral, whimsical poetry, and one part uptight Brit, the lyrics Britten set always make me want to either become a stable boy, or start dating one. Oh, and also it makes me wish I lived in the early 1900’s, poor plumbing and disease and all. When Pinzone started his Britten set, he seemed to exhale into the lyrics and settle in to some of the purest English vowels I’ve heard to date. Any diction coach would lose their shit if they heard his open “a”. Fucking money.
I hope to hear more from Gino, and part of the reason I wanted to drive to see him for free now is that I realize someday I will have to pay $80 to see his gay ass on a stage and I want to take advantage of it now. Watch out for this baritone because he is a true talent, and not to shabby to stare at for an hour, either. Well done, Gino.
Side note: if you comment and are the first to name the composer in the thumbnail, I will send you a free t-shirt. And it will be clean… probably.