Four Seasons of Mother Russia

Off Centre Music Salon’s opening concert of the season featured a largely Russian, largely 19th century program.  There were plenty of songs by Glinka, Tchaikovsky and the like sung by an interestingly contrasted mix of Ilana Zarankin, Joni Henson and Ryan Harper with Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin accompanying.  It was good to hear Joni in this program in the warm acoustic of Trinity St. Paul’s.  I think I’ve mostly heard her in the RBA which is notoriously hard on dramatic sopranos.  Here the combination of the acoustic and Russian vowel sounds resulted in a very pleasing richness of tone rather than stridency.  She also blended well with Harper’s very tenorish tenor and made an interesting contrast with the much lighter, brighter Zarankin.  Nice work all round.

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Russia Cast Adrift

The opening concert of Off Centre Music Salon’s season was a programme of Russian romantic and post romantic works, songs and piano pieces, entitled Russia Cast Adrift.  The first half of the afternoon was devoted to the sort of songs that explain why “smert” is one of about six Russian words that I recognize.  It kicked off with a Rachmaninoff prelude played with vigour by William Leathers before going into a series of songs by Sviridov, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Glière, Arensky and Mussorgsky.  The singing was shared by soprano Nathalie Paulin, mezzo Emilia Boteva, tenor Ernesto Ramirez and baritone Geoffrey Sirett with Boris Zarankin and Inna Perkis at the piano.

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Philanthropists in Music

salon1Yesterday afternoon saw the final concert of the season for Off Centre Music Salon; the concert series organised by Boris Zarankin and Inna Perkis at the Glenn Gould Studio.  This one, as the title suggests, celebrating philanthropy in music by putting together a concert of works by composers who were supported by patrons.  It was very much salon style with many short sets by various combinations of performers.  There was some instrumental music; an impressive performance of Khachaturian’s Toccata in E flat minor by twelve year old William Leathers, reprised later on accordion by Michael Bridge.  Jacques Israelievitch and Boris Zarankin collaborated on a bravura rendition of Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne and Zarankin and Perkis gave their traditional one piano/four hands performance, this time an arrangement of Beethoven’s Egmont overture, which was received with enthusiasm.

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Another one for the diary

Coming up on Sunday 28th April at 2pm at the Glenn Gould Studio is Celebrating Philanthropists in Music whereby Off Centre Music Salon concludes its 18th season, paying tribute to the philanthropists who stood in the shadows behind some of the greatest composers and supported their careers. The program will includes a variety of vocal solos and duets, 1 piano, 4 hands, and violin and piano, performing repertoire by: Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Poulenc, Debussy, Chabrier, Ravel and Stravinsky.

Performers include 12 year old pianist William Franklyn Leathers, baritone Peter McGillivrey, soprano Ilana Zarankin, mezzo soprano Lauren Segal, violinist Jacques Israelievitch and accordionist (I kid you not) Joseph Macerollo. They will be accompanied by pianists Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin.

For more details contact vciarlo@ciarlo.ca

Fifty shades of Braun

russellThis afternoon’s Off Centre concert at the Glenn Gould Studio was structured around three pairs of composer friends; Mozart/Haydn, Schumann/Brahms and Wolf/Mahler.  It was a mix of lieder, opera excerpts and piano pieces and was pleasantly varied.

Things kicked off with Russell Braun singing a number of songs from Schumann’s Liederkreis accompanied by his partner, Carolyn Maule on the piano.  This was maybe the third time that I’ve heard Russell in recital and he really is impressive.  He has a really good command of a wide range of dynamics and tone colour and lovely floaty high notes.  If I was being hyper critical I’d say I think there’s a point in the middle voice though that can’t quite sustain the volume he sometimes tries to get.  He has quite an operatic approach to lieder (compared to, say, DFD) but that’s quite fun in its own way.

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