TSMF has made some small changes to the line up this year. Instead of the art song component recitals for the academy programme being given together as two concerts they have been spread across four concerts with the balance being made up of chamber music. The first two of the four were yesterday in Walter Hall.
There was no printed programme for the concerts. The singers announced themselves and their accompanists and their material. The last was repeated in the projected surtitles (yeah!) which also provided text and translation for the non-English items (including Scots) but not for songs to English texts. So, mad scribbling was required to get a complete listing and I may have made the odd error.
The 1pm concert featured four singers. First up were mezzo Florence Bourget and pianist Leona Cheung with three selections from Debussy’s Chansons de Bilitis. Florence has a really nice even voice with excellent French diction. At first I thought she was maybe a bit unexpressive but on reflection I think it was more the slightly distanced, dreamy quality of the text and the fact that, as so often with Debussy, the piano part often had more going on than the vocal line; especially in the last number Le tombeau des Naïades.
Soprano Maeve Palmer with Jin Hee Park offered up Strauss’ Three Ophelia Songs. These are a bit weird and a tough sing even by Strauss standards. The first sounds almost like something from Pierrot Lunaire and they are fast, spikey and awkward. It was a bold and confident performance, as befits a singer who has sung a lot of contemporary music, but it did sound like a young singer who hasn’t quite grown into this rep yet. Very promising though.
Joey Jang, tenor, was joined by Pierre André Doucet at the piano. They gave us three songs by Duparc, Fauré and Quilter. He has a pretty voice but it’s a bit small and maybe needs a bit more time. Like all the singers though he showed some reall appreciation of his texts. Apparently something that mentor Julius Drake has been working hard on with the singers. See Lydia Perovic’s article over at Definitely the Opera.
Soprano Karen Schriesheim and Francine Armstrong started off with Poulenc’s rather weird Mon cadavre est doux comme un gant which she sang with a sweet, lyric tone and fine control of her upper register. Fleurs, by the same composer, was equally pleasing, if a bit soporific for a hot July Saturday. No such problem with Grieg’s Traum though. Both musicians let rip here with with an expressive and joyful rendering.
Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op. 57 rounded out the afternoon.