Baltimore, Md.- Ewa Podleś, of Warsaw, Poland, who is presently considered to be the world's leading contralto, gave a spellbinding and absolutely brilliant performance here on October 17, 2004 at Shriver Hall on the Johns Hopkins University campus. The extensive and demanding program included Brahms, Rachmaninof and Rossini: And this afforded Podles to demonstrate the full range of her artistic capabilities. But on this evening many attendees opined that Podles' piece-de-resistance was the Five Songs by Fryderyk Chopin, sung in her native Polish, which music is appreciated mainly in Poland, much to the world's loss.
The performance was observed and enjoyed by a capacity audience which broke into spontaneous and thunderous applause at the conclusion of each offering. The concert was followed by demands for encores which were then rewarded with continued, enthusiastic standing ovations. In attendance was Ambassador Przemyslaw Grudzinski, Cultural Attache Anna Niewiadomska and Consul General Teresa Janiszewska, all from the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, and a large Polonia contingent. A post-concert reception featuring a magnificent Polish buffet, courtesy of the Polish Heritage Association of Maryland, was especially enjoyed by Podles and her entourage, and to the delight of the other guests.
Podles, 51, is a most genuine and very rare phenomenon - a true contralto. Her 3.5 octave range telescopes from baritonal depths to a very lofty mezzo. Her's is a truly extraordinary and phenomenal voice, as close to perfection as one can get, according to a consensus of opinions among leading music critics. World-renown pianist Garrick Ohlsson, who often accompanies Podles, refers to her as "a force of nature." To anyone witnessing Podles consistently delivering one vocal masterpiece after another, lovingly enhanced by her matching stylistic expressions and movements, it would be nigh impossible to disagree with this example of rarely awarded professional assessment and ultimate compliment.