Duets for One

Operas for one singer are not unheard of (Seattle Opera’s staging one, Poulenc’s La voix humaine, in May), but the triple achievement of Hope Wechkin’s 2008 Charisma was, as far as I know, unprecedented: She composed it for herself to sing while playing violin, mandolin, thumb piano, and other curious instruments. Describing herself as “more of a frustrated singer/songwriter/guitarist chick who never learned to play the guitar” than a traditional conservatory-product musician, she further explores artistic self-sufficiency in her new album, Leaning Toward the Fiddler. Wechkin’s haunting compositions and folksong arrangements for violin and voice bear a strong Eastern European flavor; most striking are “Amarilli, mia bella,” a free improvisation on an old Italian art song, and the Croatian lullaby “Rumena si.” Not only are these true duets, with her violin doing much more than strumming along, but both it and her soprano cover a wide range of color from sweet and ethereal to dark and earthy. At times it seems as though there are even more than two personae participating in the music. She’ll play a few tunes at the CD release party at The Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Ave. S., hopewechkin.com. $12–$15. 7:30 p.m. Sat., March 9.

 
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