Stéphane Mayer’s Les Adieux recital yesterday in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre was definitely out of the ordinary. Rather than a concert or recital format we got a fully staged and costumed version of two Oscar Wilde related works. First up was Saint Saëns’ version of The Nightingale and the Rose with Matt Pilipiak reading the story, Danika Lorèn as the Nightingale and Stéphane at the piano. It was well done and a reminder of what a truly lovely voice Danika has.
The main event was Frederic Rzewski’s setting of Wilde’s De Profundis with Stéphane as Wilde and Matt as some sort of hybrid warder/policeman. This is a rather extraordinary piece calling for the pianist not just to play and read the text but to cluck, hum, whistle, bark, bang on the piano, play pattycakes with his oppo and much more. It’s also very moving. Perhaps uniquely among Wilde’s works it seems devoid of cynicism or cleverness for the sake of cleverness. It’s a really penetrating account of the experience of a sensitive human being in an environment designed to dehumanize. I’ve never much liked Jeremy Bentham. I think I like him less now. I’m glad they stuffed him.
I don’t think I really have words to describe the performance. Let’s just say that one of the best collaborative pianists I have ever heard is also multi-talented to a high degree.
Photo credits: Dan Truong