Forest of the imagination

Malmö might not seem the most obvious place to record Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande but in 2016 the opera there assembled a mostly French cast and two young French rising stars; Maxime Pascal as conductor and Benjamin Lazar as director.  The result is interesting, rather good and very French.

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The World of Yesterday

Yesterday’s lunchtime concert was my second chance in just over a week to see Erin Wall in recital, in a completely different program from the Mazzoleni gig.  There were three sets.  First up were Korngold’s Three Songs Op.22.  I’m all for more German songs in recitals, especially someone other than the Schus, but I wasn’t really taken with these.  They seem closer to the later film music in style than to, say Die tote Stadt.  They got the operatic treatment from Erin which is probably not a bad thing here.

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Songbird

songbird - coverLayla Claire is one of a handful of young Canadian singers making something of a splash on both sides of the Atlantic with major roles in Glyndebourne, Zürich, Toronto and Salzburg and an upcoming Pamina at the Met.  Her debut recital CD Songbird, with pianist Marie-Eve Scarfone, was recently issued on the ATMA Classique label.  It’s an interesting and varied collection of songs though never straying very far from familiar recital territory.  It’s tilted towards French (Gounod, Chausson, Debussy, Fauré, Bizet) and German (Wolf, Strauss, Brahms, Liszt) repertoire but there’s also Quilter, Barber, Argento and Britten (the comparatively rare Seascape which is, oddly, omitted from the CD liner).

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A Woman’s Life and Love

laureneYesterday’s lunchtime concert in the RBA featured mezzo Lauren Eberwin, soprano Danika Lorèn and pianists Hyejin Kwon and Stéphane Meyer.  Lauren and Hyejin were first up with Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben.  I’ve rarely seen this sung by a singer so obviously “in” the story.  There was a real sense of first person storytelling as well as rather good singing.  I thought Lauren sounded surprisingly sopranoish in the first seven numbers but they are optimistic and happy and a bright coloured voice seems apt.  She certainly darkened it nicely for the final grim song.  Hyejin was a most sympathetic partner.

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Azaleas, Roses and Lilacs

Elena Tsallagova and Sandra Horst entertained the crowd in the RBA yesterday with a flower themed recital of French and Russian songs.  It was a very well chosen selection that allowed Ms. Tsallagova to display her versatility.  From Debussy’s quite operatic Rondel chinois, where she showed a lot of power for a young lyric soprano, through the varied moods of Bizet’s Feuilles d’album where by turns she was dramatic, sombre and very playful.  Throughout she was extremely demonstrative while managing excellent phrasing and impeccable French.  She has an interesting range of colours too, from extremely bright through to quite covered and dark and she’s not afraid to use them.  Actually, the way she threw herself into the material I don’t think she is afraid of much!

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A flautist walks into a bar

magic-flutes_featured3Last night’s Soundstreams Koerner Hall presentation; Magic Flutes was an interesting experience.  Aside from interesting (mostly) contemporary flute pieces it was very much an experiment in different ways of staging a concert.  I’m all for breaking down the conventions of Mahlerian solemnity and I think experimentation is great.  It’s in the nature of taking risks though that some things don’t quite work.

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Evolving Symmetry

adanyaEvolving Symmetry is the first of a promised series of collaborations by soprano Adanya Dunn, clarinetist Brad Cherwin and pianist Alice Gi-Yong Hwang.  The focus will be on “modern” chamber and vocal works (for some value of “modern”) and last night at Heliconian Hall they presented French works ranging from the 189os to the 1960s.

The program was bookended by two late Poulenc works; the song cycle La courte paille to nonsense verse by Maurice Carème and the clarinet sonata.  These works were composed at the same time and share some musical material though the sonata seems a weightier work.  The songs are fun  and playful and they were interpreted by Ms. Dunn with excellent French diction and lots of humour.  The sonata is seems much sadder and more reflective though its final movement is manic enough.  Fine playing from both musicians here.

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