Explore the score is an initiative from the TSO. It’s a session where we, the audience, get to see Gary Kulesha rehearsing the orchestra in four new short pieces selected for the occasion. Each piece gets about half an hour of work with an opportunity for the composer to have his/her input.
Yesterday’s recital in the RBA was given by soprano Simone Osborne and the very busy pianist Stephen Hargreaves. The program began with three Mozart songs that I was not familiar with; Oiseaux, si tous les ans, Dans un bois solitaire and An Chloe. They were unfamiliar to me but Mozartian in a pleasing, intimate way; very much songs rather than concert arias. They got a clean, rather dramatic reading with real feeling from both parties. Next came the Ariettes oubliées of Debussy. Here we have texts by Verlaine of a mostly languorous ecstasy variety with a complex, very impressionistic piano part. Indeed they really do sound like pieces composed by someone who prefers writing for the piano and Stephen brought out their somewhat ethereal qualities nicely. Still the soprano gets to spin some very beautiful languorously ecstatic lines and there’s even one piece; Chevaux de bois, where the mood changes and the singer can have some fun. Which Simone did.
The third Canadian Art Song Project annual concert was given yesterday lunchtime in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. We were given four works; all by Canadian composers, and in a sufficient variety of musical idiom to make for a most interesting concert. Soprano Monica Whicher and pianist Kathryn Tremills gave us Dissidence (trois poèmes de Gabriel Charpentier) by Pierre Mercure. This 1955 work sounds rather like Ravel or perhaps early Poulenc with its symbolist poetry and rather literal musical setting. It sits very nicely for Monica’s voice though and she sang very beautifully. It seems not all modern composers hate sopranos.