Recitals at Rosedale is a new venture from collaborative pianists John Greer and Rachel Andrist. There will be four themed recitals, each featuring multiple singers, on Sunday afternoons at Rosedale Presbyterian Church. Last night saw a preview of excerpts from all four programs. Around 200 people showed up on a very hot and humid Saturday evening to see a pretty decent cross section of Toronto’s singing talent. The venue has a typically resonant church acoustic and tends to swallow the words a bit however carefully the singer enunciates but it’s a sensible size, holding maybe 200-300 and so avoids the problem of feeling empty even when there is actually a pretty decent crowd.
It was a long and varied program featuring twelve singers so I will only deal with a few highlights. The Virtues included a really sweetly sung version of Fauré’s En Prière by Miriam Khalil plus pieces by Dowland, Haydn, Schubert, Stanford and Brahms. Love….Actually? included four nicely varied excerpts from Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch including a nicely inflected and quite funny rendering of Ein Ständchen Euch zu bringen from Michael Colvin and a strongly sung Benedeit die sel’ger Mütter from Peter Barrett.
Opera nella chiesa got, well, operatic with the famous duet from Thaïs, sung by husband and wife Peter and Lindsay Barrett accompanied by Erika Raum in the equally famous, or notorious, violin bit. We also got the act 2 duet from Samson et Dalila sung with a great deal of power and passion by Laura Tucker and Gregory Dahl. The fourth set was The Vices which, curiously, wasn’t overwhelmingly the most interesting part of the program but did feature perhaps the highlight of the evening, a sensitive rendering of Britten’s The Poison Tree by Anthony Cleverton with John Greer on piano. As with so many Britten songs the piano is at least as important as the voice in this one. This set included several musical theatre numbers including a suitably over the top rendering of I Want to be a Prima Donna by Leslie Ann Bradley and Rachel Andrist and a version of Cole Porter’s The Laziest Gal in Town that suggested, that in the unlikely event opera doesn’t work out for Ambur Braid, she could have a pretty good career as a cabaret singer.
So, all in all, a very good promo for the upcoming series. Season tickets for the four concerts are $100 ($80 for COC subscribers and church members) which sounds like a pretty good deal.