Les Adieux: A Poetic Diary

This was baritone Sam Chan and pianist Stéphane Mayer’s farewell to the Ensemble Studio.  It was an all Schubert program; Poetisches Tagebuch (Schulze), the Impromptu in G flat and the Goethe Lieder.  It was a very classy performance by any standards.  There was no need here to make allowances for “young artists”.  One would have been happy to pay Koerner Hall prices to hear a recital of this quality.

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Stéphane Mayer and Samuel Chan performing in the Canadian Opera Company’s Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, photo: Dan Truong

The Schulze songs were interspersed with readings of dated(*) poems by him (in English).  It was an interesting combination.  Sam performed the songs beautifully.  There was drama, but not too much.  He used colours in the voice with taste and skill and dynamics were handled nicely.  His diction was impeccable.  Stéphane’s playing transcended anything that might be called “accompaniment”.  He was, in every sense, an equal partner.  One doesn’t often hear Lieder performed this well by non Germans.

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Stéphane Mayer performing in the Canadian Opera Company’s Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, photo: Dan Truong

The Impromptu was a rare chance to hear Stéphane playing solo.  It was lovely.  One senses that he could likely have made a career as a soloist pianist but having chosen the route that he has I hope to hear his musicianship displayed on the podium before too long.

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Stéphane Mayer and Samuel Chan performing in the Canadian Opera Company’s Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, photo: Dan Truong

The Goethe Lieder are much better known than the Schulze settings and are a true meld of a great poet and a great composer.  They cover a gamut of emotions and are occasionally even quite funny.  Once again the boys came through with a sensitive, accurate and satisfying account.

This was one of the best recitals of its type I’ve experienced in the lunchtime series in the RBA.

(*)April and July 1814 and April 1815 and apparently blithely unaware of the European political situation!

 

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