I was invited to an intimate performance by Soprano Meghan Lindsay and pianist Carson Becke at the Heliconian Club on Hazelton Ave last night.
I’m a lucky guy. I think I’ve explained before that this is my mantra, a self-fulfilling prophecy once you learn to say “I’m lucky” every day regardless of whether fortune smiles at you or gives you a wedgie. I must never forget how precious music and performance is, like the air we breathe.
Having seen Meghan so recently in the film Angel from Opera Atelier, that company known for authentic movement vocabularies and dance, I’m not surprised that she looks thin and fit: that is until I recall that just eight months ago she gave birth to a baby girl. You’d never know it.
The main item on the program was a cycle of songs taken from Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben, leaving out some songs in hopes of improving the cycle. If the COC can remove offensive parts of Magic Flute why not edit a song cycle? And I think it’s an improvement. Meghan explained that their modified Schumann cycle was to be filmed in collaboration with Jennifer Nichols.
Carson also spoke of musical transitions between songs, of the history of improvised connections, something Clara Schumann for example used to do. I don’t know this cycle well enough to properly appreciate the changes he made, although it sounded very good, very idiomatic.
I hope Clara would approve.
Meghan and Carson took us in several different directions, with music by Poulenc, Duparc, Golijov, Obradors and a delightful encore by Reynaldo Hahn. After last night I must report that Meghan’s voice is in great shape, that there’s a great deal more to her than you might surmise from her usual Opera Atelier repertoire. Everything sounded fresh and relaxed.
Partway through Carson gave Meghan a bit of an intermission by playing a solo, Grainger’s take on Richard Strauss’s concluding love duet of Der Rosenkavalier, delivered with great delicacy. I was intrigued to hear about his concert series (he is co-director) Pontiac Enchanté. I looked it up online. While they perform in a lovely rural venue thirty minutes drive from Ottawa, that doesn’t have to stop anyone given that one can tune in virtually via YouTube. I’m intrigued to read about Carson’s February reunion with Meghan for their version of Enoch Arden. We read “In this performance, Meghan Lindsay and Carson Becke will weave music by other composers into Strauss’s score, using these pieces to expand on the ideas and emotions expressed in the story“. If you can’t wait that long, there’s a concert next weekend featuring works by Zemlinsky and Brahms. And there’s another concert each month through the spring.
Go to https://www.pontiacenchante.ca/ for more information.