Yesterday’s Amici Ensemble concert in Mazzoleni Hall was an all Richard Strauss program featuring an array of guests. First up was the Duett Concertino where regulats Joaquin Valdepeñas (clarinet), David Hetherington (cello) and Serouj Kradjian (piano) were joined by violinists Timothy Ying and Jennifer Murphy, violist Keith Hamm, Theodore Chan on bass and Michael Sweeney on bassoon. It’s a program piece in which the clarinet represents a princess and the bassoon, a bear, who eventually, of course, transforms into a handsome prince. There are lots of dance rhythms from the strings and some sly quotations from Der Rosenkavalier along the way. It’s fun and it was very well played. I almost wonder if it was too smooth. The bear certainly seemed very suave and his transformation was not terribly abrupt. Still, bear!
Yesterday lunchtime in the RBA soprano Lauren Eberwein and the Rosebud String Quartet (Sheila Jaffé, Aaron Schwebel, Keith Hamm and Rachel Desoer) entertained us with a program of Haydn and Schoenberg. First up was an arrangement of Haydn’s Arianna a Naxos. We got the recitative, Teseo mio ben, and the two arias, Dove sei and Ah! che morir vorrei. It’s basically a cantata with tessitura that sits very nicely for Lauren’s voice. It was an elegant performance all round with some passion in the concluding aria. And it’s always good to hear a Haydn vocal work.
Not a relation of JS, CPE or PDQ but the venue for today’s lunchtime presentation of two JS Bach cantatas by mezzo Lauren Eberwein and organist Hyejin Kwon with violinists Liz Johnston and Rezan Onen-Lapointe, violist Keith Hamm, cellist Paul Widner, bassist Robert Speer and oboeist Mark Rogers. The two pieces were Ich habe genug, BWV 82 and Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust BWV 170; both works about the approach of death and the soul’s yearning for rest and salvation.
Having been tipped off that yesterday’s RBA noon concert was to be a vocal recital rather than, as previously billed, a chamber concert I made the trip through the snow to catch it. Three of the Royal Conservatory’s Rebanks fellows were singing with Helen Becqué at the piano and assorted staff and alumni added for the final number. Attendance was a bit sparse perhaps unsurprisingly given the weather and the evident confusion. That was a shame because it was an interesting, varied and well presented concert combining well known works with some much less well known fare.
Lunchtime today at the RBA saw members of the COC orchestra get together with soprano Sasha Djihanian for a concert of works by Handel and Albinoni. I realised that I really don’t listen to enough baroque chamber works. The first work on the program was Handel’s Trio Sonata No.2 in D Minor. It’s compact, playful and doesn’t overstay its welcome. I stupidly didn’t make a note of who played on what piece so I’ll just credit the ensemble at the end of the post. The other chamber work on the program was Albinoni’s Sonata à cinque in C major. This was fun too with lots of fugue elements and dance rhythms and some serious toe tapping by violist Keith Hamm.
Today’s recital in the RBA was given by Russell Braun. Carolyn Maule and members of the COC orchestra. The programme, Journeys of the Soul, divided into two quite distinct halves. In the first, Russell was joined by Marie Bedard and Dominique Laplants (violins), Keith Hamm (viola) and Paul Widner (cello) in a performance of Samuel Barber’s Dover Beach; a setting of a text by Matthew Arnold. It’s a very dark text and rather an extraordinary choice for a twenty year old. The music is equally dark and brooding. It’s a great work for Russell though and plays well to the colours of his voice and his keen attention to text. It was a pleasure to hear in the very intimate atmosphere of the RBA.
Allyson McHardy’s lunchtime recital in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre today was unusual and effective; combining contrasting works by Brahms, Robert Fleming and Britten. Accompanied by Liz Upchurch on piano throughout, she was joined for the first set; Brahms’ Two Songs for Alto, Viola and Piano, Op. 91 by the COC’s principal violist, Keith Hamm. They were rather beautifully sung and played and were true to music and text; both of which are a bit too German Romantic for my taste. Continue reading →
This review first appeared in the print edition of Opera Canada.
O Gladsome Lightis a collection of sacred songs, hymns and meditations by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst and his pupil Edmund Rubbra. They are performed by various permutations of Lawrence Wiliford, tenor, Stephen Philcox, piano and Marie Bérard and Keith Hamm, respectively Concertmaster and Principal Violist of the COC Orchestra.