Press

Neubauer’s sound was sexy and beckoning; it would be Heaven just to have him lullaby one to sleep every evening. From the beginning, he established himself as a big personality, even in this understated opening. His lines were long, drawn and hushed, spinning a beautiful sound for Phillips to sing with. This was early on one of her best songs on the program. Her instrument is luminescent and feminine, and she crooned in the same drawn-out long lines as the viola. The stillness was mesmerizing, making for great hopes for this afternoon delight of a program.
— Boston Music Intelligencer
First, the pairing of soprano and viola is not commonly heard, but proved to be felicitous. Ms. Phillips has a clear lyric soprano voice, even from the bottom to the top of her range, but with plenty of sound that filled the church...Mr. Neubauer and Ms. McDermott gave them sensitive readings, emphasizing the interplay between the viola and piano. This was collaborative music-making at its best.
— Cleveland Classical
Ever been to a chamber concert that began with a performer whistling “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”? Well, neither had I until violist Paul Neubauer, pianist Anne-Marie McDermott and soprano Susanna Phillips strode onstage Sunday evening at the University of Richmond’s Camp Concert Hall. Neubauer, with a smile, pursed his lips and launched into that popular World War I tune. It set the tone perfectly for a lighthearted and charming, yet often dramatic, evening of world-class music making. The program was titled “Songs for Soprano,” but it was really a performance that showcased the talents of all three of these fine musicians. Although they’re all highly acclaimed solo performers who’ve appeared on stages throughout the world, they’ve also performed this repertoire of salon-style songs together on numerous occasions — and it showed in their refined sense of ensemble and unity of artistic vision. Phillips exhibited a strong yet flexible and warm lyric soprano, Neubauer showed expressive and effortless obbligato playing, and McDermott demonstrated the ultimate accompanist’s sensibility in controlling her dynamics, never overpowering the others even with the lid of the Steinway grand fully open. A particular high spot in the first half was McDermott’s and Neubauer’s rendition of Robert Schumann’s “Märchenbilder” (“Pictures from a Fairy Land”) for piano and viola. Although ostensibly written to be performed by amateurs at home, this four-movement piece, sometimes sonorously sad, sometimes frenetic and extroverted, is technically formidable. It takes players of the caliber of McDermott and Neubauer to bring it off, which they did masterfully. The evening highlight was “Widmung” (“Dedication”) for voice and piano by Robert Schumann, coupled with Franz Liszt’s transcription of the same piece for solo piano. Phillip’s passionate rendering of the text by Friederich Rückert was splendid, and McDermott had her own shining moment as her stunning virtuosity exploded in the all-too-brief Liszt transcription.
— Richmond Times-Dispatch
Soprano Susanna Phillips defies convention with enchanting program of songs with viola.
— Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

SPA

Susanna Phillips, soprano*
Paul Neubauer, viola
Anne-Marie McDermott, piano*

Historic recordings of some of the great singers of yesteryear include numerous performances of salon type songs that included an obbligato instrument. Some of these pairings included Enrico Caruso with Mischa Elman, John McCormack with Fritz Kreisler, Marian Anderson with William Primrose, Alma Gluck with her husband Efrem Zimbalist, as well as Bing Crosby and Jascha Heifetz! Susanna Phillips, Paul Neubauer and Anne-Marie McDermott continue this tradition with SPA. This trio of stellar artists first performed together in 2011 in Curacao, in the Netherlands Antilles, and have enjoyed exploring and performing songs that include an obbligato instrument. Zachary Lewis at The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) sums it up: “But it wasn’t just the lineup, which included the remarkable pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, that made the evening so special. Also unique was the repertoire itself, a fetching blend of art and parlor songs from all over 19th- and 20th-century Europe. Phillips herself required zero assistance. A singer known for starring roles at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, she proved a singular authority, brandishing a golden, powerful instrument and treating each song to generous servings of eloquence and feeling. But how much better to hear Phillips in tandem with Neubauer, a former principal violist of the New York Philharmonic, and witness the gorgeous dovetailing of the viola’s warm, expressive tone with that of the human voice, its closest musical relation. At times, the two were almost indistinguishable.”

Alabama-born soprano Susanna Phillips, recipient of The Metropolitan Opera’s 2010 Beverly Sills Artist Award, continues to establish herself as one of today’s most sought-after singing actors and recitalists. In the 2019-20 season, Ms. Phillips will return to the Metropolitan Opera for a twelfth consecutive season to sing Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro and make her role debut in the title role of Kát’a Kabanová. She will reprise her acclaimed rendition of Musetta in La bohème with the company. Additionally, she will return to Opera Theatre of St. Louis to make her role debut in the title role of Floyd’s Susannah. In concert, Ms. Phillips will sing the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the San Francisco Symphony at its opening night gala concert, led by conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. Additionally, she will perform the Messiah with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and make her debut with the Houston Symphony in Adams’ El Niño under the baton of David Robertson. Highly in demand by the world’s most prestigious orchestras, Phillips has appeared with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Oratorio Society of New York, Santa Fe Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and Santa Fe Concert Association. Born in Birmingham, Alabama and raised in Huntsville, over 400 people traveled from her hometown to New York City in December 2008 for Phillips’ Metropolitan Opera debut in La Bohème. She continues to be overwhelmed by the support she receives and returns frequently to her native state for recitals and orchestral appearances. 

Violist Paul Neubauer’s exceptional musicality and effortless playing led The New York Times to call him “a master musician.” He recently made his Chicago Symphony subscription debut with conductor Riccardo Muti and his Mariinsky Orchestra debut with conductor Valery Gergiev. He also gave the US premiere of the newly discovered Impromptu for viola and piano by Shostakovich with pianist Wu Han. In addition, his recording of the Aaron Kernis Viola Concerto with the Royal Northern Sinfonia was released on Signum Records and his recording of the complete viola and piano music by Ernest Bloch with pianist Margo Garrett was released on Delos. Appointed principal violist of the New York Philharmonic at age 21, he has appeared as soloist with over 100 orchestras including the New York, Los Angeles, and Helsinki philharmonics; National, St. Louis, Detroit, Dallas, San Francisco, and Bournemouth symphonies; and Santa Cecilia, English Chamber, and Beethovenhalle orchestras. He has premiered viola concertos by Bartók (revised version of the Viola Concerto), Friedman, Glière, Jacob, Kernis, Lazarof, Müller-Siemens, Ott, Penderecki, Picker, Suter, and Tower and has been featured on CBS’s Sunday Morning, A Prairie Home Companion, and in StradStrings, and People magazines. A two-time Grammy nominee, he has recorded on numerous labels including Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, RCA Red Seal, and Sony Classical and is a member of SPA, a trio with soprano Susanna Phillips and pianist Anne-Marie McDermott. Mr. Neubauer is the artistic director of the Mostly Music series in New Jersey and is on the faculty of The Juilliard School and Mannes College. 

Pianist Anne-Marie McDermott is a consummate artist who balances a versatile career as a soloist and collaborator. She recently premiered a concerto written for her by Poul Ruders as well as a solo piano sonata by Charles Wuorinen. She has performed with the Philadelphia, Minnesota, Los Angeles Chamber and Australian Chamber orchestras, the New York and Hong Kong philharmonics as well as the Dallas, National, Houston, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Atlanta, New Jersey and Baltimore symphonies. Ms. McDermott has recorded the complete Prokofiev Piano Sonatas, Bach English Suites and Partitas (which was named Gramophone Magazine’s Editor’s Choice), and most recently, Gershwin Complete Works for Piano and Orchestra with the Dallas Symphony and Justin Brown. Ms. McDermott is the Artistic Director of the famed Vail Valley Music Festival in Colorado, which hosts the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Dallas Symphony in addition to numerous chamber music concerts. She was named an artist member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in 1995 and continues a long-standing collaboration with the highly acclaimed violinist, Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg. She continues to perform each season with her sisters, Maureen McDermott and Kerry McDermott in the McDermott Trio. She has also released an all Schumann CD with violist, Paul Neubauer, as well as the Complete Chamber Music of Debussy with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Ms. McDermott studied at the Manhattan School of Music with Dalmo Carra, Constance Keene and John Browning. She was a winner of the Young Concert Artists auditions and was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant.

*While the SPA trio is represented by Dinin Arts Management & Consulting, the solo career of soprano Susanna Phillips is represented separately by IMG Artists and the solo career of pianist Anne-Marie McDermott is represented by Opus 3 Artists.



Sample Program


SONGS FROM THE BRITISH ISLES FOR VOICE, VIOLA AND PIANO:

Harry Williams (1879-1922)
It’s a Long Way to Tipperary (1912) (arr. by Stephen Hough)

Edwin Greene (1856-1915)
Sing me to Sleep (1902)

Haydn Wood (1882-1959)
Roses of Picardy (1916) (arr. by Stephen Hough)

Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Märchenbilder for viola and piano, Op. 113 (1851)


SONGS FROM RUSSIA FOR VOICE, VIOLA AND PIANO:

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Oh, cease thy singing, Maiden fair, Op. 4, No. 4 (1892)

Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
Das Maiglöckchen (Lily of the Valley), Op. 38, No. 2 (1894)

Sergei Rachmaninoff
How fair this spot!, Op. 21, No. 7 (1902)

Spring Waters, Op. 14, No. 11 (1894)

~~INTERMISSION~~

SONGS BY GOUNOD & SCHUMANN FOR VOICE, VIOLA AND PIANO:

Charles Gounod (1818-1893)
Ave Maria (Bach/Gounod) (1853)

Evening Song (1871)

Sing, Smile and Slumber (Quand tu chantes) (1882)

Robert Schumann
Widmung for voice and piano, Op. 25, No. 1 (1840)

Robert Schumann/Franz Liszt
Widmung for solo piano, S. 566 (1848)

 

SONGS FROM ITALY FOR VOICE, VIOLA AND PIANO:

Francesco Paolo Tosti (1846-1916)
Ideale (1882)

La Serenata (1888)

Angelo Mascheroni (1852-1941)
For all Eternity (1891)

Gaetano Braga (1829-1907)
Angel’s Serenade (1867)

Ernesto de Curtis (1875-1927)
Carmela – Canto Sorrentino (1910)