Lost in a Russian Forest

SONY DSCCroatian bass Goran Jurić is currently making his North American debut as Sarastro in the COC’s Magic Flute.  Today he gave a lunchtime recital with Anne Larlee in the RBA.  It was an all Russian programme; Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Sviridov.  I don’t want to do a blow by blow review because I don’t know the rep well enough and it seems a bit pointless.  Instead let’s talk about Jurić as an artist, as shown by his performance here (and not surprisingly as Sarastro).  He’s a genuine bass, no messing.  The low notes are all there and the timbre is rich and dark when he wants it to be.  But he’s also extremely lyrical.  He can lighten up without ever stopping sounding like a bass.  It’s a most pleasant combination.  He’s also a terrific storyteller.  This seems like an odd thing to say about a recital where not a word was spoken and all the songs were in a language I scarcely understand at all, yet I felt he was communicating the essence of the text with great clarity as a good lieder singer must.  Anne was great as an accompanist too.  There was quite a lot of range in the piano parts from quite delicate and playful in some of the Sviridov to cranking the pedals up to 11 in some of the Rachmaninov.  A very good way to spend one’s lunch break.

Besides, it was great to see Anne Larlee back at the Four Seasons Centre and to discover a young bass who I want to hear a lot more of.  Fortunately he’s back next season as Osmin in Entführung.

Photo credit: Karen E. Reeves

Russia Cast Adrift

The opening concert of Off Centre Music Salon’s season was a programme of Russian romantic and post romantic works, songs and piano pieces, entitled Russia Cast Adrift.  The first half of the afternoon was devoted to the sort of songs that explain why “smert” is one of about six Russian words that I recognize.  It kicked off with a Rachmaninoff prelude played with vigour by William Leathers before going into a series of songs by Sviridov, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Glière, Arensky and Mussorgsky.  The singing was shared by soprano Nathalie Paulin, mezzo Emilia Boteva, tenor Ernesto Ramirez and baritone Geoffrey Sirett with Boris Zarankin and Inna Perkis at the piano.

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