The 2018 Wirth Song Prize winner tenor Marcel d’Entremont gave the customary recital in the RBA at noon yesterday accompanied by Dakota Scott-Digout. It was an interesting choice of material; nicely balanced between old and new worlds. He started with Ravel’s Cinq mélodies populaires grecques. I guess these set the tone for the recital. Marcel has a very operatic voice. It’s big with quite a lot of vibrato. The Ravel was loud but nicely characterized and sung in perfect French. He followed up with a rousing. but not overly subtle, Kuda, kuda. I was beginning to find things a bit one dimensional.
The set of German songs that followed, were in a sense, more of the same. His Erlkönig (the familiar Schubert one) was excellent with very good separation of the three characters. Liszt’s Die Lorelei and Schumann’s Waldesgespräche though had me wishing for a more “German Lied” type sensibility with the volume only turned up to eleven once in a way to make a point. It seems to be fashionable in North America to have young singers oversing Lieder. I prefer the more traditional, restrained german approach.
The last two sets were fun though and showed that Marcel can be quite playful with text. Godfrey Ridout’s Four Folk Songs of Eastern Canada(*); two in English, two in French were pleasantly sung but more fun was had with some Copland. Roistering accounts of The Boatman’s Dance and I bought me a cat sandwiched a simple but beautiful At the River.
I really want to hear Marcel sing opera again. I very much liked his Rodolfo with Against the Grain. I do think for song though he should try to develop some extra gears and more ability to scale back the voice.
(*)I suppose these four songs were collected in Eastern Canada but they predate European settlement in the Americas by a good few centuries I reckon. She’s like the Swallow is hardly echt Canadian.
Photo credit: Karen E. Reeves.