Barbara Hannigan gave a masterclass for four students last night at Mazzoleni Hall. I’ve been to quite a few masterclasses and it’s the second one of Hannigan’s that I have sat in on. Like everything else she does her teaching style is unique, fascinating, incredibly illuminating and, at the same time, slightly terrifying. Part of me wants to review like an “event” and part of me wants to be very subjective and impressionistic. I think I’m going to do a bit of both.
So, my second DMA recital of the week. This time that fine collaborative pianist Lara Dodds-Eden. Walter Hall was alive with sound before the recital proper started with Ben McCarthy’s electronic piece menagerie playing over the speakers; birdsong, rainforest and crackly vinyl. The first piece on the program proper was Fauré’s La chanson d’Ève sung by Danika Lorèn. These songs are a good showcase for Danika’s many excellent qualities. It was all there. The diction, the easy upward extension, the beautiful and varied colours. Nice! And a good start for Lara showing her sympathetic qualities in classical artsong.
Next up was Alex Samaras with Ned Rorem’s As Adam Early in the Morning. Alex is an interesting singer with a background in a variety of styles of which classical tenor probably isn’t one so it was a very different take on the Rorem than I might have expected. This was proving to be quite an enterprising program. Szymanowski’s Mythes for violin (Sheila Jaffé) and piano was also an enterprising choice. It’s a good piece for showing off musicianship and sensitivity to the modern idiom and good to have a chance for Lara to show a skill other than accompanying a vocalist.
New Voices is the latest CD from the Brooklyn Art Song Society. It features songs by Glen Roven, Michael Djupstrom, James Kallenbach and Herschel Gerfein. What most struck me was the retro feel of all four composers’ works. We are in a tonal sound world with occasional jazz/folk inflections and the piano line is clearly written to support the voice. One might be listening to, say Ned Rorem. I say this because it’s such a contrast with the songs being written by contemporary Canadian composers with their chromaticism, experimental and frequently changing time signatures and often almost adversarial relation between voice and piano. Which one prefers, of course, is a matter of taste.