Last night the Happenstancers presented a short but extremely enjoyable Pierrot themed concert at 918 Bathurst. The major work, unsurprisingly, was Schoenberg’s melodrama Pierrot lunaire for voice and chamber ensemble. It was presented in two parts. The first fourteen poems formed the first half of the programme which closed out with the concluding seven. It was extremely well done. Danika Lorèn was an excellent choice as the voice. She has the technique for Schoenberg’s tricky sprechstimme as well as the innate musicality and sense of drama the piece needs. The standard “Pierrot ensemble” is perfectly suited for the Happenstancers typically eclectic mixing of instruments. Here we had Brad Cherwin on clarinets, Rebecca Maranis on flutes, Hee-See Yoon on violin and viola, Sarah Gans on cello and Alexander Malikov on piano. Simon Rivard conducted. Skilful playing and well timed interplay between instruments and voice made for a most satisfactory experience.
Between the two arts of the Schoenberg we got two short pieces by Ana Sokolovic followed by two by Danika. The Sokolovic came from her expanding corpu of Commedia dell’Arte themed works for string quartet (Yoon and Gans joined by Katya Poplyansky on violin and Ryan Davis on viola). Colombina is a short, melodic , almost minimalist piece while Zanni is like a crazy Balkan folk dance. The rhythm and melody are appropriate but the playing style stretches string technique to the limits; mostly in a percussive way. The result is wild and exhilarating.
We also got Danika’s Cuisine Lyrique for voice and melodica. It’s a setting of two oems by Albert Giraud and the performer handles the vocals and the melodica part. The second poem; Absinthe, gets a particularly wistful and playful setting which suggests a rather close acquaintance with the Green Fairy, It was performed with skill and gentle humour by the composer.
So, another unusual and enjoyable evening with the Happenstancers. Try and catch them if they come your way.