I think a lot of my motivation for listening to The Beauty of Innuendos was a desire to learn what on Earth the composer, Frank Felice, meant by “consonant adiatonicism”. I’m still not sure I really know. In any event there’s some enjoyable music on the record though I did find it a bit of a mixed bag.
There are four “song cycles” on the record. The first is Four Songs of Jennifer Haines which sets four texts about the poet’s break up with her (female) lover in the wastes of Montana, thus creating a new genre of High Plains lesbian break up song. I wasn’t much enamoured of this piece. It’s workmanlike but neither the texts nor the melodic, largely tonal setting really did it for me.
This is a really unusual CD. It combines readings; both in the original Greek and in English translation of some of the best known passages in Homer’s Odyssey with music for period instruments composed by Rachel Stott.
The short passages of Greek are read by Maria Telnikoff and the more extensive English sections by Abe Buckoke in a variety of accents, most of which are hard to place. Somemartin,crockett,, of the text is accompanied by a combo of renaissance flute, alto sackbut, viola damore and aeolian harp.
A new piece by Stephanie Martin and Paul Ciufo about the sinking of the Canadian hospital ship The Llandovery Castle opened last night at Calvin Presbyterian under the auspices of The Bicycle Opera Project. My review is up at Opera Canada.
The TSO’s Decades project has now reached the 1930s; very much home ground for me musically. Last night’s program explored different aspects of the music making of the period, including serialism, in a varied show of why this is not “music to be scared of”. It was also Sir Andrew Davis’ first appearance in his role of interim music director and supreme leader for life of the TSO.
Last night saw the opening concert of the TSO’s New Creations Festival. It opened with a sesquie by Andrew Staniland; Reflections on “O Canada” After Truth and Reconciliation. Sesquies are two minute “fanfares” composed to commemorate Canada’s 150th. Staniland’s version was a bold attempt to deal with the immensely complex subject of reconciliation between Canada and its native peoples and, of course, one can’t do that in two minutes in any medium. Reflections was an interesting stab though. It was structured as a very quiet canon for high strings in a minor key using the principal theme of O Canada and ending with an overblown fanfare in the winds. You can apply your own political interpretation.
American mezzo-soprano Jennifer Rivera, with pianist Myra Huang, has recently released a CD of songs by contemporary American composers titled Innocence/Experience. There are four , fairly contrasting, sets of songs by different composers. The first group are settings of texts by Garrison Keillor with music by Robert Aldridge. The texts are predictably sentimental and the music is rather retro. It sounds like it might have come from a musical comedy in the 1940s. It’s not inappropriate for the texts but seems a little out of time. It suits Rivera’s voice though. Her strength is definitely in the lower register where there is a pleasing smokey tone.
New kids on the block , The Friends of Gravity, presented their first show last night at St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church on Dundas East. It was a silent film themed take on Weill’s Die Sieben Todsünden. Stephanie Conn sang both Anna I and Anna II in front of a film screen showing black and white film clips shot by Scott Gabriel for the show, replacing the ballet of the original. The Family, who pop up mostly to criticize the Annas were sung by Charles Fowler, Christopher Wattam, Bryan Martin and William Lewans. Scott Gabriel conducted his own arrangement of the score for a six piece band including accordion and ukulele.
Hubert Parry’s 1888 work Judith got its North American premiere yesterday in a performance by Pax Christi Chorale at Koerner Hall. It’s a typical English high Victorian oratorio, commissioned by the Leeds Choral Society Birmingham Festival (Wikipedia strikes again). It’s got some very grand choruses and some tuneful solos (one was later used for the hymn tune Repton setting the words “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”). If one like’s that sort of thing, and Peter Simple’s Alderman Footbotham of the Bradford Tramways and Fine Arts Committee would certainly have approved, it’s very enjoyable. And if that’s not enough, there’s human sacrifice, seduction and murder to keep one’s interest.
The 2013 recording of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites from the Théâtre des Champs Elysées has a cast that reads like a roll call of famous French singers; Petitbon, Piau, Gens and Koch are all there. Throw in Rosalind Plowright and Topi Lehtipuu and one gets some idea of the star power on display.