Bass-baritone Gerald Finley and pianist Julius Drake have concluded their tour of the United States. Beginning at The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia and concluding in New York’s Lincoln Center, the longstanding collaborators received critical acclaim wherever they performed. Gerald Finley and Julius Drake have enjoyed a highly successful and enduring professional relationship, having collaborated for the last 25 years both on-stage and in the recording studio. Scroll down for a selection of reviews from their fabulous US tour.
The Kimmel Center, Philadelphia
“Friday night’s Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital at the Perelman Theater by the Canadian bass-baritone Gerald Finley could have been just fine with any number of pianists. It was Drake, though, who was at the keyboard, and his personality glows. In a group of Rachmaninoff songs, he was the propelling force, unfurling harmonic tension in waves. In quiet Beethoven, a string of single notes telegraphed the song’s emotional truth.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
“Gerald Finley returned to Philadelphia Chamber Music Society (PCMS) after a four-year absence on April 20, the first engagement of a three-week North American tour. Aided by his regular accompanist Julius Drake, he gave an absolute master class in the art of the recital… his distinctive, richly rounded vocal tone; intelligent textual delivery; and flawless language skills… It’s clear why Drake is one of the most sought-after accompanists on the international scene.” (Broadstreet Review)
“Not only, however, is Gerald Finley a great singer, and not only is Julius Drake a great pianist, but the two of them constitute a partnership whose rare vitality, subtlety, technical audacity, and profound musical understanding all blend in a combination that might not inappropriately be described as greatness-squared.” (Seen and Heard International)
Koerner Hall, Toronto
“Finley worked his magic with the text and the song became a meaningful cri de coeur… An orchestra might have been present in the downers-with-high-dramatic-peaks O nyet, molyu, ne ukhodi! (Oh No, I Pray, Don’t Leave), O, dolgo budu ya (In the Silence of the Night), and Na smert chizhika (On the Death of a Linnet) but it was indeed just these two men onstage. A lot of chiaroscuro is required there, which Finley created through sensitivity to the text rather than vocal timbre (which stayed consistently as dark as plush velvet). Julius Drake from the keyboard supplied Romantic excess where Rachmaninoff calls for it.” (The Whole Note)
Library of Congress, Washington D.C.
“Drake took center stage in the vociferous piano parts of “Rastlose Liebe” and “An Schwager Kronos,” while Finley’s endless breath support and concentrated tone stole the show in “Schäfers Klagelied” and especially the time-stopping “Wandrers Nachtlied II.”… The highlight of the recital, however, came at the end of the Schubert set, with the duo’s spell-binding rendition of “Erlkönig.”… By this point Finley’s top notes became explosive and terrifying, leading to the work’s tragic conclusion, made shocking by Finley in spite of the song’s familiarity.” (Washington Classical Review)
“A master class in how to communicate… [Finley’s] rich baritone is in full blossom, with a commanding low voice, an enveloping midrange and a top that he wields with heart-stopping poignancy. Drake occupies a place similar to that held long ago by his fellow Briton, the late Gerald Moore, as one of the most sought-after collaborative pianists… Drake is an ever-present, dynamic partner… The clarity and power of their seasoned musicmaking was electric.” (Washington Post)
Spivey Hall, Clayton State University
“He and Drake performed lieder selections, dense and dramatic, exhibiting a world of vocal color and holding nothing back… God-like and showing a full spectrum of sound, Finley characterized fire-giver Prometheus, who defiantly stands up to Zeus spewing a diatribe of insults.” (ArtsATL)
Alice Tully Hall, New York
“He sang with a plangency rivaling Mr. Hvorostovsky’s own, and rendered the love songs beautifully… Mr. Drake was everywhere Mr. Finley’s equal, and he stood out on his own in Tchaikovsky’s “Don Juan’s Serenade” and in the postlude to “Over Burning Ashes.”… In the end, it was quite a show of versatility, and the full house — some shouted bravos even before the start — lapped it up.” (New York Times)