St Andrew’s lunchtime concerts
Classical voice students the New Zealand School of Music with David Barnard (piano)
Simon Harnden: ‘T’was within a furlong of Edinborough Town’ and ‘Sons of the Sea’ by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Michaela Cadwgan: L’invitation au voyage’ (Duparc)and ‘Donde lieta uscì’ from La Bohème
Grace Burt: ‘Chanson Triste’ (Duparc) and ‘Chacun à son goût’ from Die Fledermaus
Matt Barris; Valentin’s aria from Faust and ‘Silent Noon’ by Vaughan Williams
Ruby McKnight: ‘Signore ascolta’ from Turandot and ‘Nana’ from Falla’s Seven Spanish Popular Songs
Morgan Andrew King: Prince Gremin’s aria from Eugene Onegin and ‘Ol’ Man River’ from Showboat
Lila Junior Crichton: ‘O Columbina’ from Pagliacci and ‘Oh is there not one maiden breast’ from The Pirates of Penzance
St Andrew’s on The Terrace
Wednesday 22 July, 12:15 pm
From a purely musical point of view, this was an interesting recital, with a very wide range of songs and arias, a lot familiar, some not, but very worth being exposed to. One song I didn’t know at all was Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s ‘Sons of the Sea’. Once upon a time those three names together (in a different order) would have meant only the great poet linked with Wordsworth. Now I suspect, as a result of the disappearance of much in the way of English literature from schools (and now even being thrown out of our National Library), the black English composer of the late 19th century may be better known. It was sung by Simon Harnden whose rich bass voice did justice to its dramatic character; as it had expressively to his earlier song, Purcell’s ’T’was within a furlong of Edinborough Town’.
Interesting that we had here four males and three females: the balance is more commonly otherwise. The second male voice was that of Matt Barris. He sang Valentin’s baritone aria from Faust, ‘Avant de quitter ces lieus’, feelingly expressing his anxiety about Marguérite while he’s away. His second song was Vaughan Williams’s Silent Noon which he sang attractively, with careful restraint.
The third male was bass Morgan-Andrew King. He sang Prince Gremin’s wonderful aria from the last act of Eugene Onegin, catching its noble character but delivering it rather too quickly. And later he sang ‘Ol’ man river’ from Showboat, with calm dignity.
Lila Junior Crichton, a tenor, sang two late 19th century arias. The first a familiar aria from Pagliacci: in Act II Beppe (Arlecchino) serenades the ultimate victim Nedda (Columbina), with ‘O Columbina’, capturing its fluctuating rhythms well. Then, from The Pirates of Penzance, ‘Oh, is there not one maiden breast’ from; not terribly familiar but attractively lyrical in Crichton’s hands.
Two of Henri Duparc’s few, precious songs came early in the concert. Michaela Cadwgan sang perhaps his best-known: ‘L’invitation au voyage’, which I have a somewhat personal relationship with. First it drew attention to the piano part, and then to Michaela’s strong, perhaps a bit too strong at the top, voice. But it suggests promise in the opera house, which was evident in her singing of the poignant ‘Donde lieta uscì’ from Act III of La Bohème.
The second Duparc song came from Grace Burt’s mezzoish voice: ‘Chanson triste’ was nicely modulated, her voice dynamically disciplined throughout. Prince Orlovsky’s ‘Chacun à son goût’ from Die Fledermaus is a droll aria from what I consider the greatest of all operettas. It’s a travesti role, a bit of a challenge, needing a conspicuous flamboyance to bring off well, and it got that.
Soprano Ruby McKnight sang Liu’s touching aria ‘Signore ascolta’ in Turandot; it doesn’t really need a voice as large as McKnight’s to deliver it, but with accurate intonation, it was a fine performance. And she later sang ‘Nana’, one of the seven Spanish popular songs (folksongs ere) by Manuel de Falla (good to see the proper translation of ‘Seven Spanish popular songs’: they’re not ’seven popular Spanish songs’ – a significant difference). If she didn’t capture the Spanish flavour perfectly, her performance was distinctive and arresting.
As student recitals go, this was a splendid three-quarter hour; a major part of that success was David Barnard’s unerring piano accompaniments that claimed the orchestra’s role very convincingly.