Yesterday’s lunchtime concert in the RBA was the last for the year in the vocal series and featured members of the Ensemble Studio. Rachael Kerr was scheduled to do about half the accompanying but illness prevented her from playing so some hasty reprogramming meant that what we got differed somewhat from the printed programme but it was still a very well put together effort.
The show started with Joel Allison and Alex Soloway doing Schubert’s Nacht und Träume. This starts on a long crescendo note rather high for a bass-baritone. It’s rather like starting a cycling demonstration by crossing Niagara Falls on a unicycle. Anyway, Joel didn’t plunge to his death in the foaming waters and it all went rather well. It was followed by a very dramatic Liedesend from Simona Genga with equally dramatic playing from Alex.
Jamie Groote teamed up with Alex for Jake Heggie’s Daybreak from his chamber opera Three Decembers which is a sort of riff on dysfunctional families at Christmas. Typical Heggie; tuneful but not overly schmaltzy and very well sung.
Matthew Cairns made his first appearance with the Witch’s aria from Hansel and Gretel in the version that is going to be used by the COC in their abridged children’s version (February 13th and 15th). It was dramatic, loud and in just the right funny/scary spot. There were several small children in the house but none of them got eaten. Matthew was back later with Liz Upchurch for a very fine version of Strauss’ Zueignung. I’m really not sure why tenors don’t do the Strauss songs for high voice more often.
Vartan Gabrielian and Alex chipped in with five short songs by Rachmaninoff. He sounds very good in Russian. His dark timbre suits Rachmaninoff. There was more Strauss from Lauren Margison and Liz. This time it was Beim Schlafengehen from the Four Last Songs and was quite dramatic and rather beautiful.
The close out was an awfully cute Evening Prayer from Hansel and Gretel from Jamie and Lauren with Liz at the piano. Awww. Until next year then…
Photo credits: Dan Truong (except the kittens)