music / “Tamara-Anna Cislowska”, Wesley Uniting Church, Sunday, February 18. Reviewed by GRAHAM McDONALD.
IN Art Song Canberra’s latest concert, soprano Sonia Anfiloff and baritone Ben Connor utilised the elements of earth, air, fire and water as a theme for the afternoon’s program of songs.
With the movie “The Fifth Element” in mind, they included another element, “Love”, to round out the program.
Both singers have superb voices but adhering to the theme of the concert resulted in a choice of songs that, in the first half, lacked variety and interest. There were songs by eminent composers such as Samuel Barber, Hugo Wolf and Gabriel Faure, but the singers chose mostly dramatic, emotional works that were too similar to each other.
The second half began with songs by Tchaikovsky and these were the highlight of the concert, giving the singers the opportunity to show the various aspects of their fine voices. ‘A Love from Beyond the Grave” suited Ben Connor’s rich baritone perfectly and Sonia Anfiloff’s performance of “Lullaby” was hauntingly beautiful. Alan Hicks’ piano accompaniment for this song was especially fine.
The final section of the program contained songs from Broadway, the movies and operetta. They were sung very well technically, but there seemed to be little attempt to project the meaning behind the songs. “Love For Sale” by Cole Porter needs an edge of cynicism to work and operetta duets will only soar emotionally for an audience if the characters non-verbally display their feelings for each other as well.
In the encore, “My Song Of Love” from the operetta “White Horse Inn”, the singers relaxed and their spontaneous interaction with each other made the song really come alive.