Madame Olga Averino's song recital in Sanders Theatre Monray night was notable not so much for vocal quality as for interpretive excellence. Her voice, despite its tonal richness and vigor, has limitations. Particularly in the very high and very low registers, she seemed to show signs of strain as well as uncertain pitch.
Nevertheless, her ability to grasp and then project contrasting emotions demonstrates that she is a truly great artist. Her first offering, a group of songs by Tchaikovsky, was a welcome relief from the syrupy Tchaikovsky that usually appears in the vocal repertoire. Madame Averino chose seven simple, almost naive, numbers, and sang them with tasteful restraint. Hers is an intimate style, not wholly suited to the sprawling impersonality of Sanders Theatre. Had a smaller, more congenial hall been available, I believe both she and her audience would have been happier.
The bare melodic line and oppressive psychological content of Moussorgsky's Sunless provided a perfect medium for Madame Averino's darkly lyrical voice.
She ended her program with works by de Falla and Ravel. Although less at home in these exotic pieces than in the earlier Russian selections, she still sang them with provocative feeling. I especially enjoyed her seemingly effortless rendition of Ravel's evanescent La Flute Enchantee.