The Gryphon Trio pulled out of Wednesday night’s Toronto Summer Music concert for, one supposes, the usual reason. This forced a reorganisation of the concert. Elliot Britton’s new piece was cut and instead we got an extended set from the Nordic Voices as the first part of the concert. Actually the first piece was for a very extended Nordic Voices. Andrew Balfour’s Omaa Bindig supplemented the vocal sextet with Marion Newman and Jamie Parker (piano) plus a number of string players and voices lined up down the sides of Walter Hall. It’s one of those soundscape works that envelops you in a variety of sounds and techniques. I wish I could find the text but I can’t (surtitles used last night as they have been all through TSM… yay!)
The Nordic Voices then went on to perform a mixture of Renaissance Polyphony, Norwegian lullabyes and contemporary pieces . I particularly liked Lasse Thoreson’s setting of an old (medieval as presented but probably based on older material) invocation to the sun; Solbøn, and a piece riffing off Rachel Carsen’s Silent Spring by Bjørn Bolstad Skjelbred; Spring without Voices. Apart from being a really good a cappella group the NVs use a really wide variety of vocal techniques including overtone singing and throat singing to produce a really intriguing sound world that can cover a wide range of material. Really fun stuff.
After the interval we got Marion Newman and Jamie Parker with four songs from Mahler’s Rückert Lieder. It’s familiar fare but it was nicely done, especially a heartfelt “Liebst du um Schönheit”. A scratch trio of Philip Chui, Rachel Mercer and Scott St. John replaced the Gryphons for Dvořák’s Piano Trio No.4 in E minor “Dumky”. This was a most exciting and energetic performance where the performers were clearly having fun and the audience loving it. All in all, a pretty good way to end the evening.
Photo credits: 1. Sofia Lebovics, 2. & 3. Caroline Barbier de Reulle