Review / ‘Where Go The Boats?’ at Wesley

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Top Louise Page and at piano, Phillipa Candy

‘WHERE Go The Boats?’ was the theme for Art Song Canberra’s latest offering with Canberra’s soprano, Louise Page, accompanied by Phillipa Candy on piano. It was a wide-ranging program of songs about the sea and other journeys of the soul, both happy and sad. In her spoken introduction to the concert, Louise Page advised that she had assured her family that she wasn’t making a political statement with the title of the program!

What followed was a rich collection of songs by Britten, Liszt, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Fauré, Elgar and others. ‘Where Go the Boats?’ by Roger Quilter was the first item and it was gently and beautifully sung. ‘Three Salt Water Ballads’ with music by Frederic Keel to John Masefield’s poems showed that Louise Page is a fine actress as well as singer, clearly displaying a believable sense of longing in ‘Port Of Many Ships’ and the deliciously scary relating of the horror story of ‘Mother Carey’.

Other highlights of the concert included a superb set of Mahler’s ‘Songs of A Wayfarer’. Very nicely sung with great sensitivity, it was good to hear these with only a piano accompaniment. Heinrich Heine’s ‘The Lorelei’, with music by Franz Liszt, was sung with the right amount of drama in the telling of the story. Liszt’s music for this was beautifully played by Phillipa Candy.

While singing in English, it’s notable just how clear Louise Page’s diction is. In addition, she maintains eye contact with her audience, drawing everyone into the music, drama and emotion of the songs she’s presenting.

The solo musical item presented by Phillipa Candy – Maurice Ravel’s, ‘Une barque sur l’océan’ – was superbly played.

Late in the second half of the concert, Louise Page presented ‘War Song’ by Monique Carole-Smith, an intensely moving song about the loss of Anzac soldiers in the First World War. Her quiet, carefully understated singing of this beautiful work was the absolute highlight of the concert. The well-known ‘Leaving With You’ by Francesco Sartori was a great choice for the finale and was sung with grand emotion.

Both Louise Page and Phillipa Candy are delightful, down-to-earth performers as displayed in their informative and often amusing spoken introductions to the works they presented. They created a relaxed atmosphere for the audience to thoroughly enjoy their glorious music in this memorable concert.

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