So, my second DMA recital of the week. This time that fine collaborative pianist Lara Dodds-Eden. Walter Hall was alive with sound before the recital proper started with Ben McCarthy’s electronic piece menagerie playing over the speakers; birdsong, rainforest and crackly vinyl. The first piece on the program proper was Fauré’s La chanson d’Ève sung by Danika Lorèn. These songs are a good showcase for Danika’s many excellent qualities. It was all there. The diction, the easy upward extension, the beautiful and varied colours. Nice! And a good start for Lara showing her sympathetic qualities in classical artsong.
Next up was Alex Samaras with Ned Rorem’s As Adam Early in the Morning. Alex is an interesting singer with a background in a variety of styles of which classical tenor probably isn’t one so it was a very different take on the Rorem than I might have expected. This was proving to be quite an enterprising program. Szymanowski’s Mythes for violin (Sheila Jaffé) and piano was also an enterprising choice. It’s a good piece for showing off musicianship and sensitivity to the modern idiom and good to have a chance for Lara to show a skill other than accompanying a vocalist.
Robin Dann’s mother of the word was another venture into electronics and amplification with the composer joined by Alex Samaras and Ilana Zarankin singing a very non-classical text with microphones to mixed tape and piano accompaniment.
The final work on the program was George Crumb’s Apparition; settings of texts from Whitman’s When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d plus vocalises with amplified piano accompaniment. It’s a tough piece for both musicians. The piano part uses lots of extended techniques and the vocal part needs an ability to sing difficult atonal music accurately while also, at times, demanding real drama, even fierceness. I’ve heard Lara play parts of this piece before and it was no surprise that it seemed to cause her few problems. It wasn’t music though that I had heard Ilana Zarankin sing. It was a musical, accurate and committed performance but I did feel that perhaps a singer with more sheer heft would have been preferable in, for example, Approach Strong Deliveress! which is a piece that ought to make the hairs on one’s neck stand up.
All in all, a rather ambitious and well executed program worth braving a cold and snowy night for.