Two Welshmen in Verbier

bryn - verbier recitalDeutsche Grammophon has just re-released the recital by Bryn Terfel and Llyr Williams that was recorded live at the Verbier Festival in 2011.  It’s a generous package.  It kicks off with a couple of exquisitely sung Schubert songs which are followed by Schumann’s Liederkreis Op.39.  This is gorgeous lieder singing with the voice sounding very fresh, the diction spot on and lovely accompaniment.

After the interval there’s Ibert’s Chansons de Don Quichotte and Quilter’s Three Shakespeare Songs.  These too are beautifully done.  Then it’s on to the lighter stuff that Bryn always seems to throw in on these occasions and which does help making listening to the recording seem more like being at a live concert.  Among other things there’s a lovely Ar Hyd y Nos and The Green Eyed Dragon.  You have to admire a singer who can manage four languages with such clarity and feeling and still be personable and funny.

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Anne Sofie von Otter at Koerner Hall

Anne Sofie von Otter DSC_3608 Ewa-Marie RundquistVeteran mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter appeared in recital at Koerner Hall yesterday afternoon with pianist Christopher Berner.  The first part of the programme was some fairly gentle Mozart with some fairly light weight Weckerlin and one long Schubert piece; “Die Viola”.  A short Mozart piano piece rounded out the programme.  It was stylish, enjoyable singing but one felt that both choice of material and method of presentation were being chosen to conserve the voice.  How would things go after the interval when three songs from Winterreise were promised?

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Rod Williams sings Winterreise

winterreisewilliamsPresto Classical lists over 100 recordings of Schubert’s Winterreise for (almost) every voice type accompanied on pianoforte, fortepiano, string quartet and probably more.  It’s also frequently performed live and I’ve certainly seen it done multiple times in settings ranging from the most formal of Liederabend to staged with projections and all manner of things.  So why bother with another new recording?  Well it’s largely because I’m a fan of English baritone Roderick Williams who has just had a Winterreise recording, with Iain Burnside at the piano, released on the Chandos label.

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COC orchestra at Koerner Hall

Last night Koerner Hall live streamed a concert by the COC orchestra conducted by Johannes Debus with guest soloist Adrienne Pieczonka. It was a mostly Beethoven concert bookended by the Egmont Overture and the Symphony No.2. In between came a set of more Beethoven, Schubert and Wagner sung by Adrienne.

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Winterreise 2020

I’m a big fan of taking classic song cycles and giving them a treatment other than the very formal Liederabend approach; fond as I am of that!  So I was intrigued to see what Philippe Sly and Le Chimera Project would make of Schubert’s Winterreise.

Philippe Sly Winterreise

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Fairytales and Lullabyes

Yesterday’s lunchtime concert in the RBA was the last for the year in the vocal series and featured members of the Ensemble Studio.  Rachael Kerr was scheduled to do about half the accompanying but illness prevented her from playing so some hasty reprogramming meant that what we got differed somewhat from the printed programme but it was still a very well put together effort.

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Marcel d’Entremont in the RBA

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.

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An afternoon with Adrianne

There’s something very special about a song recital by a really good singer at the top of his/her game in a space conducive to song.  The stars conjoined yesterday to yield a recital by Adrianne Pieczonka with pianist Rachel Andrist in the song friendly acoustic of Mazzoleni Hall, as part of the Mazzoleni Songmasters series.

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Old Songs, New Songs

Yesterday Matthew Cairns and Rachel Kerr performed an unusually wide range of songs in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.  It’s part of Matthew’s prep for his CBC recording session which was part of the prize at last year’s Centre Stage and which will be broadcast in the new year.  They kicked off with a contrasting pair of Duparc song’s.  First came the almost dreamy L’invitation au voyage with it’s arpeggio accompaniment followed by the much more dramatic Le manoir de Rosemonde.  These really set the tone for the recital.  There was power where it was needed but also considerable delicacy from both singer and pianist.

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Schubert to Mercury to Beethoven

The main stage concert for TSM at Koerner Hall last night was given by the Art of Time Ensemble with vocalists John Southworth and Sarah Slean.  It’s my first encounter with Art of Time have been around for about ten years and specialise in cross genre collaborations inspired by their founder, pianist Andrew Burashko.

TSM July 25-Dale Butterill

Last night was classical meets singer songwriter.  There was an introductory piece by Christos Hatzis, some Schubert, plenty of Gershwin and lashings of Leonard Cohen plus much more (there was no set list and I didn’t take notes).  It’s rather out of my usual zone but I enjoyed.  Southworth is a really quirky vocalist, exemplified by a rather weird version of The Old Folks at Home; which needed to be weird!  Slean is quite a performer; good voice, very funny, great mover.  The ensemble was terrific across the board.  I’m sold.  There are lots of reasons to stretch the boundaries of classical performance.  Larry Beckwith does it very well with his Confluence series.  Here’s another example.

TSM July 25-Photo Dale Butterill

The late show, also at Koerner, featured Jonathan Crow, Katya Poplyansky, Minkyoung Lee and Allison Rich in a performance of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 12 in B-flat Major Op. 130 but with a twist.  They played the full original version in which the Grosse Fuge Op. 133 forms the finale.  So, basically, an hour long string quartet!  It was very well done though I confess late Beethoven at 10.30 pm was straining the grey matter.

Photo credit: Dale Butteril