News location:

Canberra Today 7°/10° | Sunday, August 14, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

High praise for a concert of sound, light and pictures

Sounds and pictures… Allan Clayton performs in an immersive “A Winter’s Journey”. Photo: Bradbury

Music / “A Winter’s Journey”, Allan Clayton & Kate Golla. At Llewellyn Hall, July 27. Reviewed by GRAHAM McDONALD.

THE performance of Lieder – German art-songs – has long been a simple, unadorned activity. A singer and pianist on stage with a series or cycle of songs taken from poems set to music. 

Franz Schubert’s “Winterreise”, composed in 1827, shortly before his death, is seen as an important early Romantic work in this style. It is a cycle of 24 songs, the poetry of Wilhelm Muller dealing with a lost love during winter. The poems are bleak and miserable, but set to some very pretty melodies, often with the feel of church hymns about them.

Lieder is a specialised musical art form and can be excruciatingly dull. Two people on stage singing unintelligible songs with a piano is of limited appeal, but this production has reimagined how this song cycle can be presented into an immersive and highly enjoyable 70 minutes of light and sound. 

In addition to the two excellent musicians, there is the involvement of a director as well as video and lighting designers. The stage is set with a reflective black sheet on the floor of around seven by five metres, set at an angle, with screens around three metres high on the back two sides and low footlights along the front edges. 

The piano is placed along the longer side with room to move around it and a smaller screen for sur-titles above the longer screen. This was used sparingly to give the sense of each song. The high screens are used for back projection with a selection of Fred Williams landscapes changing with every song. Sometimes it is the whole image, sometimes just a detail. Sometimes the images zoom and pan, or slowly shift like clouds, cross fading almost unnoticeably until you realise the image has changed.

The projections act as a set for tenor Allan Clayton’s immersion into the song cycle. He is as much an actor as singer and lived the songs, with Kate Golla’s piano accompaniment always in the right place. Clayton’s singing was confident and assured throughout. Musical performances with projected images can be distracting from both the music and the imagery, but this presentation was more than the sum of its parts and sets a very high standard for a combination of sound, light and pictures.

Who can be trusted?

In a world of spin and confusion, there’s never been a more important time to support independent journalism in Canberra.

If you trust our work online and want to enforce the power of independent voices, I invite you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support is invested back into our journalism to help keep strong and free.

Become a supporter

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor



Share this

Leave a Reply

Related Posts

Follow us on Instagram @canberracitynews