Barbara Hannigan and Reinbert de Leeuw

Barbara Hannigan made her much anticipated Koerner Hall debut last night in an all German program accompanied by Reinbert de Leeuw.  The first half of the program consisted of three sets; Schoenberg’s Vier Lieder Op. 2, Webern’s Fünf Lieder nach Gedicten von Richard Dehmel and Berg’s Sieben Frühe Lieder.  All of these cycles were composed between 1899 and 1907 and there are many similarities.  They are highly lyrical and essentially tonal and they mostly set poetry of a fairly pastoral nature.  It would be churlish to complain about a performance of the utmost artistry (by both performers) of important works that likely no-one else would program in a major Toronto recital.  That said, it was all quite lovely but it was a bit samey.  Occasionally, especially in the Webern, some slightly different moods would emerge e.g in the third stanza of Ascension where it gets a bit more dramatic or in Heile Nacht, where there are echoes of Perrot Lunaire, but generally it was all rather in one place musically and emotionally.

Hannigan at Koerner

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Lineage

lineageLineage, performed last night at the Heliconian Club, is the latest show from Adanya Dunn, Brad Cherwin and Alice Hwang who brought us Evolving Symmetry in September.  Lineage featured German music from Schubert to Rihm so much more in my sweet spot than the French theme of the earlier show.  It was intriguingly constructed with three sets each of a pieces from Mendelssohn’s Lieder Ohne Worte and a Rihm song setting.  In between we got first Berg and then Webern, Schoenberg and Schubert.  It sounds bizarrely eclectic but the contrast between quite experimental pieces and more obviously accessible fare was very satisfying.  Also the sense that there is both a thematic unity and a tendency to experiment in a lot of German music regardless of period.

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