Tenor and Piano – Humberto Borboa and Ilusion Hernandez

By Mark Berg –

The audience at Sunday’s Benderly-Kendall Opera House concert was treated to a world tour of song, featuring tenor Humberto Borboa and pianist Ilusion Hernandez. The program started in Germany with selections from Robert Schumann’s Dichterliebe, based on the love poems of Heinrich Heine. The next stop was France, which featured two melodies by Reynaldo Hahn, Si mes vers avaint de ailes, written when the composer was age 14, and L’Heure Exquise, its soft piano accompaniment leaving room for the tenor to shine on its delicate melodic line. On to Italy and two songs composed by Paolo Tosti, Non t’amo piu and Ideale. Tosti is remembered for his expressive and singable melodies, allowing Mr. Borboa to display his operatic training for embellishment. The last half of the concert moved south of the border, featuring works by Mexican composers Maria Grever, Manuel Ponce, and Jorge del Moral, Costa Rican songwriter Felix Mata, Venezuelan composer Augusto Brandt, and culminating with one of the most popular Latin songs of the 20th century, Besame Mucho by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velazquez.

At the beginning of the concert, Mr. Borboa announced that the program was a collaboration between tenor and pianist, with each playing an equally important part. Ms. Hernandez was especially impressive on the second half of the program, her Latin heritage coming through with some brilliant improvisations up and down the keyboard. The enthralled audience called the artists back for three encores, surely the sign of a successful and rewarding afternoon.