Four seasons in one day

erinwallAnd that wasn’t just the weather that went from balmy to barmy round about verse five of Fauré’s Dans le forêt de Septembre as a cold front hit Mazzoleni Hall with, literally, a bang.  Meanwhile the sheltered audience was being treated to a skilfully curated program of art song on the theme of the four seasons sung by Erin Wall and Asitha Tennekoon with Rachel Andrist and Robert Kortgaard at the piano.  There were French chansons, German lieder and English songs with a decent injection of CanCon, with Derek Holman, John Greer, Jean Coulthard and Matthew Emery all represented.

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Howard and Haji

Yesterday afternoon’s Mazzoleni Songmasters concert featured local tenor Andrew Haji and Welsh baritone Jason Howard in a program somewhat loosely linked to England.  Neither singer was, I think, 100% well (Haji’s cold was announced, Howrad’s merely obvious!) but both battled through manfully and gave us some fine singing.  There were some interesting contrasts especially in the first half of the program.  Andrew kicked off with Francesco Santoliquido’s I canti della sera.  I’m no expert on Italian art song but these did sound like songs rather than opera arias, at least in the hands of Andrew and Rachel Andrist.  In contrast, Jason’s set (Tosti’s L’ultima canzone, Respighi’s Nebbie, Tosti’s L’ideale and Verdi’s In solitaria stanza), with Robert Kortgaard sounded distinctly operatic and suited Jason’s darkish voice rather well.

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Welcome and Adieu

23_nathalie_paulinThe first concert in this season’s Mazzoleni Songmasters series featured sopranos Nathalie Paulin and Monica Whicher with pianists Peter Tiefenbach and Robert Kortgaard in an eclectic program of English and fFrench songs on the theme of coming and going.  First up was a set of Purcell songs which is always going to score brownie points with me.  I’ve never heard Sound the Trumpet or Be Welcome, Then, Great Sir sung by female voices so that was interesting.  The duet was really nice and Nathalie sang quite beautifully in the welcome ode.  Monica followed up with fine versions of Dear Pretty Youth and An Evening Hymn.   Continue reading

Next week

nathaliepaulin_365sq.jpgThe Mazzoleni Songmasters series opens this afternoon at 2pm in, surprise, Mazzoleni Hall at the conservatory.  Nathalie Paulin and Monica Whicher present Welcome and Adieu; a program of English and French songs and duets.  Collaborative pianists are Robert Kortgaard and Peter Tiefenbach.

Tuesday at noon in the RBA sees the students of UoT Opera present an all Mozart program. It’s semi staged and the program is duets and ensemble numbers so not your usual fare.  Free of course but probably one one will need to arrive early for.

Norma and Ariodante continue at the COC as does Dido and Aeneas at Opera Atelier.

 

The Hungarian-Finnish connection

Stephen HegedusThe last Songmasters concert of the season featured a selection of works that sorta kinda had a Finnish or Hungarian connection.  The first part of the prgram featured songs by Sibelius, all but one to Swedish texts, and piano pieces by Selim Palmgren, whose music sounds like a sort of cross between Debussy and Sibelius.  The songs were sung Stephen Hegedus with plenty of power and quite a bit of subtlety.  We had been told he was quite ill but one wouldn’t have known it.  Fine, delicate work at the piano by Robert Kortgaard.   Continue reading

The Royal Conservatory 2015/16 season

PD32029780_Terfel__1514579cThe Royal Conservatory has now announced the 2015/16 season.  The full details plus how to subscribe, buy tickets etc is here.  It’s the usual rich mix of music in a wide range of genres.  Here are the things I will be looking out for:

April 24th 2016 in Koerner Hall at 3pm there’s a recital by Bryn Terfel with Natalia Katyukova.  This is definitely the big name vocal gig of the season.

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A Celebration of Canadian Art Song

AllysonMcHardyParlando2This year’s new work from the Canadian Art Song Project, Marjan Mozetich’s Enchantments of Gwendolyn, was premiered yesterday in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.  It’s a setting of four really interesting poems by Gwendolyn MacEwen for mezzo-soprano and piano.  The first and last pieces; Sunday Morning Sermon and A Coin for the Ferryman are rather beautifulmeditative pieces and frame the two inner songs nicely.  These inner two, for me, was where much of the interest really lay.  Waiting for You was a blues inflected number of considerable interest, in some ways recalling Michael Tippett but in others entirely original. The third piece; The Tao of Physics, is a setting of a piece linking sub-atomic physics with the cosmology of The Vedas.  That’s not exactly an original idea but it’s always an interesting one to explore and, by accident or design, Mozetich does so in a manner that somewhat recall John Adams’ treatment of the same basic ideas.  We get a long, impassioned, vocal line floating over an arpeggiated piano accompaniment.  It’s impressive and effective.   All four pieces were beautifully performed by Allyson McHardy and Adam Sherkin.  McHardy’s warm. dark mezzo seemed perfect for the material and listening was like wallowing in hot chocolate (more lurid similes did suggest themselves but this is a family blog).  She can sing the blues too.  Who would have thought it.

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