I was at a bit of a loose end yesterday so I made a very last minute decision to catch countertenor Daniel Cabena and pianist Stephen Runge in recital in the Great Hall at Hart House. It was a free concert and I hadn’t seen a program listing so I was pleasantly surprised to find a rather varied mix of early 20th century Canadian and English art song as well as piano pieces by York Bowen. I guess I was expecting baroque and earlier material since that’s what countertenors do!
The program was called A Sanctuary in Song and explored the idea of rest and sanctuary from various angles using some very familiar material (pieces from Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad and Vaughan Williams’ The House of Life) and some much less well known (e.g. Quilter’s Dream Valley and a coupe of songs by Cabena’s father, Barrie) . It took me a couple of numbers to get “calibrated” to a countertenor singing material one usually associates with lower voices but once settled in I really enjoyed Cabena’s pure sound, elegant phrasing and excellent diction. I particularly enjoyed an a capella rendition of The Three Ravens. A generous 90 minute program including several of York Bowen’s Preludes between song sets beautifully played by Runge who was also a most sympathetic accompanist.
I gather that this program is being toured around. It’s worth catching if it comes your way.