Photo Credit: David Sabella
Marieann Meringolo has a glorious voice. And it is no wonder that her CD Between Yesterday and Tomorrow: The Songs of Alan & Marilyn Bergman is currently being considered for a grammy nomination. With innovative arrangements, by Music Director Doyle Newmeyer, Meringolo takes on this legacy with stylistic ease and a velvet tone made for these songs.
Beginning with The Way We Were (m. Hamlisch) and Where Do You Start (m. Mandel), Meringolo eased her audience into the evening with a comfort reminiscent of hot-choco by the fireside. Her crystalline tone, which once evoked memories of Barbara Streisand, has now developed into her own, richer resonance, while maintaining the musicality and consummate phrasing required for the Bergman Songs.
Marilyn and Alan Bergman wrote with several different composers. But chiefly represented on this evening was the music of Marvin Hamlisch and Michel Legrand, both of whom compose with sweeping, long phrases that many singers find daunting. But Marieann Meringolo does not. Her flawless vocal technique sails through the soaring lines in A Piece of Sky (m. Legrand), and a powerful arrangement of The Way We Were (m. Hamlisch)/ How Do You Keep The Music Playing & Summer Me, Winter Me (m. Legrand) with seeming effortlessness.
With each breathtaking song the musical stakes seemed to rise, as did Meringolo’s range and use of dynamics. And, from the smallest pianissimo sounds, to her full, yet shimmering belt, Meringolo dazzled the audience at Pangea.
My only critique of this evening was that Meringolo seemed somewhat disconnected from her audience. The sound was always beautiful, just like the recording. But in a live performance I want more than just the recording. I want the experience of being in the room with the artist and sharing something unique. Except for a brief encounter during That Face (m. Spence), where Meringolo came out into the audience to greet several faces, the evening remained true to the CD, without much patter or interaction. But unlike the CD, the live performance should be an ever-evolving, spontaneous, experience. On this evening, however, it seemed that Meringolo was delivering exactly what was on her CD, and regrettably, however beautiful the tone, nothing more.
I happened to bring my young daughters with me, specifically to hear Meringolo’s performance. As we were walking home I asked them how they enjoyed the evening. And, my 15yo replied “It was beautiful! Her technique is flawless. But, it kinda felt like we were allowed to talk over her.” Out of the mouths of babes.