Yesterday saw the pre-recorded webstream of the annual recital by the winners of the Norcop Song Prize and the Kodolfsky Prize in accompanying. The winners; mezzo Alex Hetherington and pianist Dakota Scott-Digout had put together a well curated and ambitious programme.
It started boldly with Ana Sokolovic’s setting of O Mistress Mine for unaccompanied voice. It’s a bit of a brute with no real line or direction to help the singer. That didn’t seem to bother Alex who sang it with great skill. It was followed by a set of four Grieg songs. They were varied and expressive with virtuoso accompaniments that gave musicians a chance to shine.
Every Canadian mezzo, I guess, has to include something written for Maureen Forrester. This time it was Jean Coulthard’s Irish Poems for Maureen. These songs are essentially conventionally romantic; even a bit lush with complex interweaving of voice and piano. The CanCon continued with Tania Léon’s Atwood Songs. These are much more modern in idiom than the Coulthard; tough and sinewy in places, lyrical in others and posing the challenge, which was met, of voice and piano in dialogue rather than lockstep. Again, nicely done.
The final section of the main set was three songs from Strauss’ Op. 27.; Ruhe, meine Seele, Heimliche Aufforderung and the ever popular Morgen. If a young singer can pull off the deceptive simplicity of Morgen then one knows that the requisite combination of technique and sensibility is there. The signs are certainly there for Alex Hetherington.
The “encore” was Sammy Fain’s I‘ll be Seeing You. Though when is still anyone’s guess.
The whole recital can be found on UoT Music’s Youtube channel.