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.
“Culture Days” is a weekend long festival in Toronto where various arts organisations put on free events. This year it included a concert in Koerner Hall by the ARC Ensemble with guests Baritone Peter Barrett and cellist Se-Doo Park. The main draw for me was Respighi’s Il tramonto; a setting for baritone and string quartet of an Italian translation of Shelley’s The Sunset. This was indeed very well executed but was far from the most interesting part of the afternoon.
It was actually the final piece that was the revelation; Castelnuevo-Tedesco’s Piano Quintet No. 1. It’s a really fun piece in high romantic style with tons of melodic ideas and lots of colour. It was given a truly virtuoso performance by Erika Raum, Benjamin Bowman, Steven Dann, Se-Doo Park and Dianne Werner. I think I’ll be looking for more examples of Castelnuevo-Terdesco’s work.