Reviews
Mary Dibbern

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Ange Flégier: Mélodies for Bass Voice and Piano
Ange Flégier (1846–1927) is one of those sad cases of a gifted composer consigned to utter obscurity despite a career that was both lengthy and distinguished in its day....We are fortunate to live in an era in which the rediscovery of musical treasures long buried is more possible than it has ever been, and Flégier seems to be a prime candidate for reevaluation and restoration. Toward that end, Toccata Classics has seen fit to unearth and release to the public a dozen of Flégier's forgotten songs composed between 1870 and 1897. Six have never been recorded before, and the other six have not been recorded in more than one hundred years. ... It is clear that these songs do not belong on the ash heap of history; they are rich and compelling songs with their own unique voice. ... "La Poésie"...is not an exercise in subtle details, but rather a song drawn in the broad, bold colors of opera, and only a singer capable of producing a mighty sound has any business going near it. ...These songs have been entrusted to two superb musicians who are equal to their many challenges. Bass Jared Schwartz, whose fine singing was featured in Toccata Classic's earlier release of Fauré songs for bass, is an absolutely ideal choice for this release. He is the kind of singer who can caress the gentlest phrases yet also swell to encompass the mammoth climaxes that so many of these songs contain. He is a potent and versatile communicator, and one can also sense how deeply he loves these songs. Pianist Mary Dibbern contends beautifully with the accompaniments, many of which seem to have been conceived with orchestral sonorities in mind....One can only hope that more releases will follow this one, that we might gain an even clearer picture of this composer and his considerable gifts. May he never be forgotten again. --NATS JOURNAL OF SINGING: The Listener's Gallery by Gregory Berg (March/April 2017)

Ange Flégier: Mélodies for Bass Voice and Piano
Recorded with mostly natural ambiance in the bright acoustic of Dallas's Cathedral Church of Saint Matthew, this Toccata Classics disc unites superb-quality Mélodies for bass voice by little-remembered French composer Ange Flégier with American bass Jared Schwartz, a young Indianan whose singing on this disc is characterized by the qualities for which the music begs: clarity of mind, tone, and language. Not a newcomer to recording despite his youth, Schwartz nonetheless infuses this disc with an engrossing freshness that reveals far more than a thoughtfully-attained acquaintance with overlooked repertory....Without question, these Mélodies reveal that Flégier was a tunesmith whose creations warrant comparison with the Lieder of Franz Schubert, Hugo Wolf, and Richard Strauss. Accompanied by pianist Mary Dibbern with abundant sensitivity and the complementary firm rhythmic core and interpretetive flexibility that are at the heart of the music...Schwartz's cognac-hued timbre, reminiscent of the voice of great French-speaking singers of prior generations like Heinz Rehfuss and René Bianco, flows through the music intoxicatingly, consonants lightly but effectively voiced. The depths of expression reached in Flégier's handling of Jean Richepin's text in "Au crépuscule" are reflected in the expansiveness of the accompaniment, and Dibbern provides Schwartz with a profoundly eloquent palette upon which to mix the colors of the vocal line. The interaction between singer and pianist is a model of the art that conceals art, their collaboration having been refined to the point of seeming as much biological as artistic without sounding in any way artificial or studio-bound. ... Schwartz and Dibbern heighten appreciation of the quality of Flégier's music by exploring every recess of angst and ambiguity without overextending the dimensions of the music.....they craft a performance that is a splendid service to both composer and poet... Schwartz and Dibbern lack nothing that Flégier requires of them, and in their ideally-scaled, richly imaginative performances of these thirteen Mélodies they give neither more nor less than the music needs....In this age in which it sometimes seems that young singers are trained to think identically and to look and sound as impersonally interchangeable as possible, encountering a disc like this one and a developing artist like Jared Schwartz is an unexpected delight. How strange it seems that an intuitive young bass singing little-known but fascinating music beautifully and idiomatically might be interpreted as consciously daring to be different. --VOIX DES ARTS: RECORDING OF THE MONTH (September 2016)

Cosi fan tutte (Mozart)
Friday night's "Cosi" was at its most graceful during the continuo (keyboard accompaniment) sections, performed expertly by Mary Dibbern. --Honolulu Advertiser (February 15, 2004)

Cosi fan tutte (Mozart)
It took a while to get used to hearing the continuo part on piano rather than harpsichord, but Mary Dibbern played in an ornate style that supported and complemented the singers. --Honolulu Star Bulletin (February 2004)

Carmen: A Performance Guide
In her introduction, Dibbern states that the book provides all of the material necessary for singers, conductors, coaches, stage directors, opera producers, students, and teachers. That bold claim proves to be absolutely true. The work is comprehensive, succinct, and clearly written. It is highly recommended. --NATS JOURNAL OF SINGING: Bookshelf by Debra Greschner (January/February 2002)

Recital, University of Nevada Las Vegas with Laurence Albert, bass
"Duo lives up to rave reviews with Las Vegas performance"
Crowning a week rich in vocal music....was one of the finest vocal recitals I have ever heard. According to the advance publicity, bass Laurence Albert is from Tennessee and pianist Mary Dibbern is from Texas, but I don't believe it: They must have come from heaven. Both are making big names for themselves in Europe, where they have lived for more than a decade....They have been performing together and amassing rave reviews for over 10 years. Here is another: I cannot imagine a more perfect union. Completely in home in French, German, Russian and Spanish and in every style of music, they gave marvelous performances of everything on their exceptionally rich and varied program....Both are finished stylists. Dibbern never let her beautiful, tasteful pianism obtrude, and Albert was a spellbinder.... Always in complete control, he never let his performances degenerate into empty displays of singing or acting. Dibbern is the world's authority on the songs of Leguerney, one of the grand old men of French music, and her playing was a model of Gallic clarity, wit and charm. But she was astonishing in the songs of John Musto. For "Island," she created a lagoon of plangent sadness, with melancholy waves gently lapping a hopeless shore. --Las Vegas Review-Journal (Jerome Horowitz) (February 12, 1991)

Mozart's Cosi fan tutte (Marseilles, France)
A souligner aussi l'excellent travail au clavecin de Mary Dibbern dans les récitatifs. [Notable was Mary Dibbern's excellent work at the harpsichord for the recitatives.] --Le Provençal (May 19, 1990)

Jacques Leguerney, "Mélodies, Vols I and II" Kurt Ollmann, baritone, Lisa Bonenfant and Deborah Massell, sopranos, Harmonia Mundi
Dibbern, who makes her home in Paris, is a pianist of sensitivity and fine technique who thoroughly understands French song and like her mentor Dalton Baldwin, is really "inside" the literature. She recently edited the newest publications of Leguerney's mélodies for Eschig Publications. Pianist Dibbern provides consistent vitality throughout the two programs, supporting the singers with accompaniments of color and nuance which reflect the elegance and subtly of the texts. --NATS JOURNAL OF SINGING: Listner's Gallery by Carol Kimball (May/June 1989)

Recital of Polish concert songs with Barbara Franch-Weselak, soprano (Quimper, France)
"Semaines musicales de Quimper
Une voix large et charmeuse, magnifiquement accompagnée par la pianiste Mary Dibbern. [A large and attractive voice, with Mary Dibbern's magnificent accompaniment.] --Le Télégraphe (August 10, 1988)

Recital of concert songs by Shostakovitch and Britten with Barbara Franch-Weselak, soprano, Sophie Forunier, mezzo-soprano, and Adrian Brand, tenor (Quimper, France)
Semaines Musicales de Quimper
Les trois chanteurs vont au bout de leurs facultés expressives...Des voix d'exception avec le piano efficace de Mary Dibbern: l'accompagnement reste toujours discret dans sa couleur souvent modale et son pittoresque sans outrance. Union parfaite des quatre créateurs pour des moments intenses. [The three singers reached their greatest interpretative possibilities. ... Exceptional voices with the efficient pianism of Mary Dibbern: the accompaniment always remaining discreet in its color...often modal...and its pittoresque expressivity. A perfect union of the four creative musicians resulted in an intense performance.] --Ouest France (August 17, 1987)

Recital with Laurence Albert, bass (Kaiserslautern, Germany)
"Neue Interpretationspfade: Laurence Albert im Theodor-Zink-Museum"
Daß einen so intelligenten Bühnensänger wie Laurence Albert die Kunst der Liedinterpretation reizt, ist begreiflich....Dabei herrschte ein akustisches Gleichgewicht mit der einfühlsamen Mary Dibbern am Flügel." --Kaiserslauterer Rundschau (March 2, 1987)

Jacques Leguerney, "Mélodies, Vols I and II" Kurt Ollmann, baritone, Lisa Bonenfant and Deborah Massell, sopranos, Harmonia Mundi
Hearing all of Leguerney's songs at a single setting was not at all a problem, for his lyrical world is one that is netered effortlessly.... He crafts vocal lines that are at times exuberant and at others quietly sensual. But there is always variety and a sure knack for illuminating his chosen texts, most of which are drawn from French Renaissance poetry....Beyond the songs, the major discovery on this set of discs was the suave, expressive singing of Kurt Ollmann...Dibbern is a polished partner throughout, not only expressive but obviously a performer charged with conviction and a cause. I am much in her debt for the chance to experience this music and these records. --Dallas Morning News (John Ardoin) (February 1, 1987)

Recital with Margot Pares-Renya, soprano (Cherbourg, France)
"Margot Pares-Reyna soprano de charme"
Mary Dibbern...fait admirer sa grande culture musicale, qui en fait l'accompagnatrice obligée des plus belles voix actuelles depuis son complément de formation par Nadia Boulanger." [We admired the great musical culture of Mary Dibbern, who became the obligatory accompanist of today's most beautiful voices following her advanced studies with Nadia Boulanger.] --La Presse de la Manche (December 17, 1986)

Concours de chant de Paris (France)
Parmi les pianistes accompagnateurs, on signalera particulièrement Mary Dibbern, dont la musicalité seconde si efficacement les voix. [Among the accompanists, we especially noticed Mary Dibbern, whose musicality so eloquently supports the voices.] --Le Monde (Gérard Condé) (November 19, 1986)

Jacques Leguerney, "Mélodies, Vol. II," Kurt Ollmann, baritone, Deborah Massell, soprano, Harmonia Mundi 1171 LP
The present songs--which deserve to be savoured two or three at a time, not swallowed in one gulp--show remarkably imaginative invention and a highly original mind....Mary Dibbern enjoyably brings out its diversity of character without ever threatening to overwhelm the singer. --Gramophone (October 1986)

Jacques Leguerney, "Mélodies, Vol. II," Kurt Ollmann, baritone, Deborah Massell, soprano, Harmonia Mundi 1171 LP
Kurt Ollmann has the major share in this album and, despite the name, he is very much a product of the French school, and sings throughout with great sensitivity and impeccable diction.... Mary Dibbern...plays the interesting piano accompaniments superbly. --Hi-Fi News: Record Review (John Freestoe) (October 1986)

Jacques Leguerney, "Mélodies, Vol. II," Kurt Ollmann, baritone, Deborah Massell, soprano, Harmonia Mundi 1171 LP
Les interprètes de Jacques Leguerney....surtout Mary Dibbern au piano, le servent avec ferveur. [The performers of Jacques Leguerney...especially Mary Dibbern at the piano, serve him with passion.] --Opéra International (Martine Cadieu) (September 1986)

Jacques Leguerney, "Mélodies, Vol. II," Kurt Ollmann, baritone, Deborah Massell, soprano, Harmonia Mundi 1171 LP
L'accompagnement de Mary Dibbern est une merveille d'efficacité, de charme, de présence discrète. [Mary Dibbern's accompaniment is marvelously effective, charming and discretely present.] --Diapason Harmonie (Jean Roy) (September 1986)

Jacques Leguerney, "Mélodies," Kurt Ollmann, baritone, Lisa Bonenfant, soprano, Harmonia Mundi 1171 LP
These mélodies are given very winning performances by the three young performers, Mary Dibbern in particular carrying much of the musical argument so persuasively." --Hi-Fi News: Record Review (September 1986)

Recital of concert songs with JoAnn Pickens, soprano (Quimper, France)
"Semaines Musicales de Quimper: The Return of Pickens and Dibbern"
Incontestablement, la révélation des Semaines musicales 85 fut la cantatrice JoAnn Pickens, accompagnée au piano par Mary Dibbern...pianiste douée d'une musicalité et d'une sensibilité exceptionnelle. Il est difficile, en effet, de séparer dans l'éloge ces deux interprètes, tant les qualités vocales et artistiques de l'une s'accordent à merveille à la délicatesse et à l'intelligence pianistique de l'autre. Accompagnatrice des plus grand interprètes dans la plupart des récitals, opéras ou festivals internationaux, passionnée par l'étude des liens unissant les instruments à l'interprétation vocale, M. Dibbern met ce soir encore, pour notre immense plaisir, tout son talent et son coeur au service de la musique." [Incontestably, the revelation of the Semaines musicales 85 was the singer JoAnn Pickens, accompanied at the piano by Mary Dibbern....a pianist gifted with exceptional musicality and sensitivity. It is difficult, in fact, in praising these two performers, to separate them because the vocal and artistic attributes of the former are so perfectly matched with the delicacy and pianistic intelligence of latter. Accompanist of the most renowned performers in many recitals, operas and international festivals, with a passion for the study of ways that instruments and voices intermingle, Mary Dibbern will, once again and for our great pleasure, devote all of her talent and her heart to the service of the music.] --Le Télégramme de Brest et de l'Ouest (August 11, 1986)

Jacques Leguerney, "Mélodies," Kurt Ollmann, baritone, Lisa Bonenfant, soprano, Harmonia Mundi 1171 LP
Pierre Bernac, reportedly, described the songs of Jacques Leguerney (b. 1906) as "mélodies de pianiste," and one can see why: their keyboard writing is often very dramatic, passionately turbulent in a rather un-French, un-reticent way; it is sometimes closer to Brahms than to any of the expected French models. --Gramophone (April 1986)

Jacques Leguerney, "Mélodies," Kurt Ollmann, baritone, Lisa Bonenfant, soprano, Harmonia Mundi 1171 LP
Ollmann est la révélation de cet album.... Ce n'est pas tous les jours que le disque nous permet de découvrir et le meilleur d'un interprète et le meilleur d'un compositeur. Accompagnement remarquable de Mary Dibbern. [Ollmann is the revelation of this album...It is not every day that a recording allows us to discover the best of a performer and the best of a composer. Remarkable accompaniment of Mary Dibbern.] --Diapason (Jean-Charles Hoffelé) (March 1986)

Jacques Leguerney, "Mélodies," Kurt Ollmann, baritone, Lisa Bonenfant, soprano, Harmonia Mundi 1171 LP
Leguerney a trouvé ...des interprètes qui comprennent son style et le servent à ravir: si Pierre Bernac et Gérard Souzay l'ont défendu, aujourd'hui Lisa Bonenfant...et Kurt Ollmann...prêtent à cette Renaiisance très douce, un peu "retro," leur style intelligent et leurs jolies voix. Au piano l'Américaine Mary Dibbern (qui fut chef de chant dans "La Tragédie de Carmen" selon Brook), a toute la présence nécessaire; le piano ici n'est pas accompagnateur, mais personnage." [Leguerney has found performers who understand his style and serve it perfectly: if Pierre Bernac and Gérard Souzay defended him previously, today Lisa Bonenfant and Kurt Ollmann bring to this Renaissance the intelligence of their extremely tender, slightly "old fashioned," style and their lovely voices. At the piano, the American Mary Dibbern (who was vocal coach for Brook's "The Tragedy of Carmen") has all of the necessary presence; the piano here is not an accompaniment, but a personage." --Opéra International (Martine Cadieu) (February 1986)

Recital with Jane Rhodes, mezzo-soprano (Bourgoin, France)
"Une grande leçon de chant à Bourgoin"
[Jane Rhodes] eu la chance de trouver en Mary Dibbern mieux qu'une accompagnatrice, une merveilleuse compagne de route, dont un piano élégant et subtil, le toucher clair et souple (dans la "Flûte de Pan" par example), qui fait une infinité de liens avec la ligne vocal. [Jane Rhodes was fortunate to find in Mary Dibbern, more than an accompanist, a marvelous artistic partner, an elegant and subtle pianist with a clear and supple touch (in the "Flûte de Pan" for instance) that creates infinite connections with the vocal lines.] --Journal Rhone-Alpes (Gérard Corneloup) (February 23, 1984)

Recital of concert songs with Brian Bennett, soprano, and Dominique Mentha, baritone (Stäfa, Switzerland)
"Vollendete Gesangkunst in Stäfa"
Mary Dibbern, die unter anderem bei so berümten Liedbegleitern wie Dalton Baldwin, Jörg Demus oder Erik Werba studiert hat, erwies sich von Anfang an als einfühlsame, stets "colla voce" spielende, über eine geradezu unglaublich differenzierte Anschlagskunst verfügende Begleiterin. [Mary Dibbern, who has studied with the most famous recital accompanists such as Dalton Baldwin, Jörg Demus or Erik Werba, revealed her great qualities as an accompanist by the finesse of her sensibility, playing constantly "colla voce" and by the infinite nuances in her tone.] --Paul Klaeger (January 28, 1983)

Liederabend in Baden-bei-Wien (Austria)
Mary Dibbern folgt jeder Regung der Melodien Schuberts und ihr weicher Anschlag unterstreicht die Phrasierung. [Mary Dibbern followed each emotion of Schubert's songs and her tender touch sustained the phrases.] --Badener Zeitung (August 15, 1980)

Opera aria recital with Norman Harper, tenor, and Régine Rossy, mezzo-soprano (St Quentin, France)
Mary Dibbern accompagnera ces deux grand chanteurs avec un talent désormais reconnu et apprécié de tous les saint-quentinois, avec cette grâce délicate qui n'appartient qu'à elle. La pianiste saura montrer une fois encore toutes ses qualités musicales. [Mary Dibbern will accompany these two great singers with the talent we have already recognized and appreciated in Saint-Quentin, with that delicate grace that only she possesses. The pianist will once again display all of her musical gifts.] --l'Union Aisne Matin (January 10, 1980)

 
 
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