Russian Romance

The full Ensemble Studio was on display yesterday for an all Russian lunchtime concert.  First up was Megan Quick with a couple of Rachmaninov songs.  Megan’s timbre is very dark and it seems to be a natural fit for those Russian vowels.  She was followed by Bruno Roy with a couple of Tchaikovsky numbers.  He’s come on a lot in his time in the Studio.  There’s some heft to the voice now and some quite impressive top notes.  Good stuff.


Danika Lorèn is understudying Jane Archibald in The Nightingale come the spring so no surprise that we got two pieces from that show.  These were high, shimmery pieces.  As ever Danika’s tone was even and pure even singing well up her range.  It was lovely and there was some fine delicate work at the piano by Rachel Kerr.

Samuel Chan sang the Serenade from Mussorgsky’s Songs of Dances of Death.  I’ve only ever heard the cycle sung by either a low contralto or a genuine bass so it was interesting to hear it essayed by a lyric baritone.  It worked pretty well though I can’t see it working with the darker songs in this cycle such as The Field Marshal.  He followed it with Sviridov’s Virgin in the City.  This may be the first post-Soviet Russian music that I’ve heard and it’s almost an elegy for lost certainty.  It’s beautiful in an ethereal way and was sung with great delicacy and feeling.

Next up was a reformatted Simone McIntosh.  Her penchant for bold visual statements is almost as striking as her voice.  Yesterday she looked like she was off to a very elegant lunch at The King Edward c.1955!  She gave us bravura accounts of three of the Rachmaninov Op. 34 songs. These are all high notes (especially for a mezzo) and percussive piano (Rachel again).  Exciting!

Lauren Eberwein closed things out Rachmaninov’s The Lilacs and Spring Waters.  The transition to soprano still seems very much a work in progress.  These are quite ethereal, floaty songs but Lauren’s still singing with a fairly covered, darkish timbre.  She’s got the notes for the higher voice type but still doesn’t always sound like a natural soprano.  Time will tell I guess.

Photo credit: Catherine Wilshire..

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