Alan Hicks, Piano
Art Song Canberra
Wesley Music Centre, Forrest Sunday 26 February
Reviewed by Len Power
With the ‘House Full’ sign up for ‘Dangerous Romantics’, Art Song Canberra’s first concert for 2017, husband and wife duo, mezzo-soprano, Christina Wilson, and pianist, Alan Hicks, were greeted by the large audience with a huge round of applause and cheers as they came onstage. As the audience settled down, Christina Wilson acknowledged the extraordinary greeting but pointed out with great humour, ‘We haven’t done anything yet!’ They went on to give a well thought out concert that was melodic, emotionally moving and very entertaining.
‘Dangerous Romantics’ presented a set of songs based on poems by Lord Byron, Paul Verlaine and Percy Bysshe Shelley, all of whom left a trail of broken hearts and worse in their romantic lives. The poems were set to music by classic and contemporary composers. Christina Wilson set the scene for each set of songs with clear and very interesting information about the poets and the composers.
The concert opened with a melancholy set of poems by Shelley with music by Australia’s Frederick Septimus Kelly and was sensitively sung by Christina Wilson with a fine accompaniment by Alan Hicks.
This was followed with three poems by Byron with music by Australia’s Graeme Koehne. The highlight of this set was the third song – ‘She Walks In Beauty’ – which Wilson sang with great feeling. All three pieces were notable for their fine and unusual piano arrangements which were played exceptionally well by Alan Hicks.
A major part of the program featured songs by Faure, DuBoscq, Hahn, Debussy and Vaughn Williams based on the poems of France’s Paul Verlaine. It was particularly interesting to be able to hear some of the same poems set to music by different composers. Highlights were Faure’s ‘Muted’ with Wilson’s voice floating gloriously above the accompaniment and ‘Exquisite Hour’ by Reynaldo Hahn which was hauntingly beautiful and very well sung and played.
‘Love’s Philosophy’, a poem by Shelley with music by Roger Quilter was a perfect choice for the concert’s finale, summing up the strong feelings of romance - the joy, the hopes and fears. It was movingly sung by Christina Wilson.
This was a fine concert by two very accomplished and, judging by the audience reaction, much admired performers.
Photos by Peter Hislop
Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM’s ‘Artcetera’ and ‘Dress Circle’ programs.