The Thursday concert at UoT yesterday was a recital by Joel Allison and Mélisande Sinsoulier, respective winners of the Norcop song prize and Koldofsky prize in accompanying. It was a very satisfying performance. Loewe’s Tom der Reimer set the tone with fine singing from Allison and quite inspired pianism from Ms. Sinsoulier. Allison displayed power and agility plus an ability to sing quite elegantly when required though perhaps he does occasionally “push” the drama a bit further than the text really needs.
Brahms’ Vier Ernste Gesänge came next and allowed Allison to show that he can float high notes rather well as well as produce a much darker and incisive tone when required.
The final set was the Vaughan Williams settings of Stevenson’s Songs of Travel. Full marks for essaying one of the classic English language baritone cycles. It does, of course, though invite comparison as every great British baritone has sung these at some time or other. I guess I felt the same way about them as I did the Loewe piece. This was really good singing; phrasing, interpretation, legato, the notes were all there. Just a wee feeling that in a piece like Let Beauty Awake the words and music could be left to speak for themselves a little more. Ms. Sinsoulier’s contribution was above and beyond. This was the kind of accompaniment that transcends accompaniment and puts the piano part on a level with the singing without fighting the singer.
I look forward to seeing and hearing more of these two.