The 2018 Wirth Song Prize winner tenor Marcel d’Entremont gave the customary recital in the RBA at noon yesterday accompanied by Dakota Scott-Digout. It was an interesting choice of material; nicely balanced between old and new worlds. He started with Ravel’s Cinq mélodies populaires grecques. I guess these set the tone for the recital. Marcel has a very operatic voice. It’s big with quite a lot of vibrato. The Ravel was loud but nicely characterized and sung in perfect French. He followed up with a rousing. but not overly subtle, Kuda, kuda. I was beginning to find things a bit one dimensional.
This year’s new work from the Canadian Art Song Project, Marjan Mozetich’s Enchantments of Gwendolyn, was premiered yesterday in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. It’s a setting of four really interesting poems by Gwendolyn MacEwen for mezzo-soprano and piano. The first and last pieces; Sunday Morning Sermon and A Coin for the Ferryman are rather beautifulmeditative pieces and frame the two inner songs nicely. These inner two, for me, was where much of the interest really lay. Waiting for You was a blues inflected number of considerable interest, in some ways recalling Michael Tippett but in others entirely original. The third piece; The Tao of Physics, is a setting of a piece linking sub-atomic physics with the cosmology of The Vedas. That’s not exactly an original idea but it’s always an interesting one to explore and, by accident or design, Mozetich does so in a manner that somewhat recall John Adams’ treatment of the same basic ideas. We get a long, impassioned, vocal line floating over an arpeggiated piano accompaniment. It’s impressive and effective. All four pieces were beautifully performed by Allyson McHardy and Adam Sherkin. McHardy’s warm. dark mezzo seemed perfect for the material and listening was like wallowing in hot chocolate (more lurid similes did suggest themselves but this is a family blog). She can sing the blues too. Who would have thought it.