Water nymphs

Lauren Eberwein and Rachel Kerr put on a rather different show in the RBA at lunchtime.  The musical component consisted of Ravel’s Jeu d’eaux and Messiaen’s Poèmes pour Mi.  The surprise was that Lauren painted on a canvas on the floor throughout the performance.  She brought on two palettes of acrylics and used her hands and feet to create a large abstract on the broad theme of “water”.  Needless to say, she ended up covered in paint.

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Painting aside, this was a musically compelling show, played through with no pauses for applause.  The Ravel piece established a kind of meditative mood which served to prepare us, or lull us into a false sense of security, for the Messiaen.  Like so many works of that enigmatic composer this one merges the secular and the Catholic in a disturbing way.  The Mi of the poems (by the composer) is his wife Claire Delbos and in characteristic Messiaen fashion he conflates his passion for her with Christ’s passion to create a work of great textual and musical intensity.  It got intensely committed performances from both Lauren and Rachel.  I’m not sure Lauren’s voice is quite the grand soprano dramatique that the composer had in mind but in the intimate space of the RBA it didn’t matter.  There was volume enough, considerable beauty, attention to text and commitment to burn.  Rachel’s almost demonic performance at the piano was a perfect match, though the Steinway repair team may be needed.

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This was a fabulous farewell to Lauren’s three years in the Ensemble Studio and I really look forward to seeing what’s next for her.

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Photo credits: Karen E. Reeves

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