Emily D’Angelo with Sophia Muñoz

DG_EDA_Pressebild_Fullbody_sRGB_©Mark Pillai. Styled by Esther Perbandt.There was never a chance that Emily D’Angelo’s solo recital at Koerner Hall was going to be a steady procession of German lieder and French chansons with the odd Broadway number thrown in and it wasn’t.  It was what D’Angelo fans would expect and (some of us at least) crave; lots of women composers and lots of contemporary music.  There were five sets.

The first linked Hildegard von Bingen, Arnold Schoenberg and Missy Mazzoli.  I’m going to focus on the Mazzoli.  There was “Hello Lord” from Vespers for a New Dark Age and “You Are the Dust” from Songs from the Uproar.  Both of these are stage works scored for chamber ensemble and electronics so they sound very different in piano score.  Emily sang the with great purity and clarity and Sophia accompanied beautifully though there’s just no way one can capture the synth pop inflections of Mazzoli on piano.  That said, it was a great advert for two works a I really admire.

Sophia Munoz (c) Nika MunozThere were more contemporary female composers in the second set beginning with Cecilia Livingston’s Penelope.  This is a lovely piece written for soprano and piano so it was interesting to hear Emily brighten up her usually rather dark mezzo for it.  Could she do that?  Of course she could!  Continuing the Penelope theme we got two numbers from Sarah Kirkland-Snider’s song cycle for vocalist and chamber ensemble Penelope.  “Dead Friend” is a haunting, largely a cappella, piece which is kind of on the cusp between classical and not.  “Nausicaa” is more densely scored and so there’s more for the piano.  Emily then confirmed her ability to traverse different sound worlds with an idiomatic version of Randy Newman’s “Wandering Boy”.

After the intermission it got more like a classic liederabend for a while with songs by Aaron Copland and Rebecca Clarke to texts from Emily Dickinson and Yeats.  I really like the Clarke setting of “Down by the Sally Gardens” and Copland’s setting of “I’ve Heard an Organ Talk”.  The latter was really quite grand for a piano and voice piece and the former captured the mood of the text beautifully.  Great singing and playing again.

I’m actually not sure what happened in the fifth set.  I’m told it was as printed in the programme but if that’s true then the printed texts were wrong! It did include a really nice performance of Cecilia Livingston’s solo piano piece Moon.  Then it was time for Clarke’s setting of John Masefield’s “The Seal Man”.  This is really interesting with a minimalist piano part and a very dramatic vocal line in which Emily demonstrated that she can turn the volume up to eleven when required.  The concluding number was equally dramatic; Clara Schumann’s “Lorelei” and there was a zarzuela number as an encore.

This was a really good recital.  It was thoughtfully put together and both singer and pianist demonstrated that they can cover the range from the most classically dramatic German lieder to the ambiguous sound world of Mazzoli and Kirkland-Snider with just a hint that if Emily wanted to do a bunch of singer-songwriter covers it would be killer.

A lot of the music heard last night has been recorded.  There are full versions of both the Mazzoli works available, though not with Emily.  You can find reviews of them in the CD reviews section.  The Kirkland-Snider has also been recorded.  And of course there’s Emily’s brilliant Juno award winning album energeia which features some of the music sung last night plus more fun stuff.

Phot credits: Mark Pillai (Emily) and Nika Muñoz (Sophia).


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