One of the more interesting features of concert life in New York in the past decade has been the growth—one might almost say the ubiquity—of the vocal recital. By the “vocal recital” I mean the classic “art song evening,” as opposed to an evening of opera arias. Historically, the “art song evening” was limited to inner-core music lovers, specialized recordings (such as those of the Hugo Wolf Society in the 1930s), and specialized voices, like that of Povla Frijsh—voices that had minimal, if any, contact with opera. Mostly, the vocal recital was a province of the German composers, with an important French subjunct, and it was performed with a distinct elevation in tone and attitude.

Today, there is hardly a week during the New York performing season that does not include vocal recitals, often several, and all which attract audiences. Indeed, the fifteen-year-old New York...

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