Review / Cycles of warmth and sensitivity

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REVIVAL House Project strives to combine art song with film, exploring the co-dependency between visual and aural elements of performance. With the film as a visual hook, the audience’s capacity to connect with the emotional potency inherent in art song is hopefully enhanced.

With Mark Connors on piano, two song cycles were presented without interval accompanied by film projections by Alex Hobba.

In 1933, Erich Korngold composed the song cycle, “Unvergänglichkeit” (Immortality). As his text he used four poems by Eleonore van der Straten. The cycle talks about how love remains despite difficulties and the passage of time. It’s a sombre work of great beauty and with the repeat of the first song (“The Immortal”) at the end, it finishes on a note of great optimism.

Soprano Louise Keast… clarity and confidence in her heart-felt singing. Photo by Peter Hislop

Louise Keast gave a level of warmth and sensitivity to the cycle that was very impressive. There was clarity and confidence in her heart-felt singing. It was a fine performance of this beautiful work.

The second song cycle presented was Gustav Mahler’s “Kindertotenlieder” (“Songs On the Death of Children”). Based on five poems by Friedrich Rückert, the cycle first premiered in Vienna in 1905. It’s a highly emotional work, describing the anguish and emotions that accompany the death of a loved one. For the singer, it’s a major emotional journey that becomes a very moving experience for the audience.

Mezzo-soprano, Shikara Ringdahl… honesty of emotion throughout the cycle. Photo by Peter Hislop

Mezzo-soprano, Shikara Ringdahl, displayed an honesty of emotion throughout the cycle and the beautiful richness in her voice, combined with strong technique, produced a highly satisfying and memorable performance.

Mark Connors’ piano accompaniment was excellent, demonstrating a fine feeling for the music of both composers.

Alex Hobba’s accompanying film provided images of a cold, snowy European winter. There was an obvious match with the bleakness of emotions in the songs but the association of some of the images and their relation to the music was somewhat obscure.

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