Presented by Revival House Project
Drill Hall Gallery
Saturday 1st July, 2017
Reviewed by Bill Stephens
Louise Keast is a soprano with a passion for lieder. She also has entrepreneurial flair, which has resulted in the formation of the Revival House Project an initiative aimed at producing collaborative encounters between emerging practitioners of art song to explore innovative ways of presenting lieder to new audiences, and provide performance opportunities for local performing artists.
For its first “Liederabend”, which Keast described as “an introduction to lieder focussing on four composers who have made significant contributions to the genre”, Revival House Project assembled a cast of three accomplished singers, Louise Keast herself, Louise Page and Karen Dalzell, who, accompanied by pianists Lucus Allerton and Colleen Rae-Gerrard presented an attractive and varied program of works by Schubert, Brahms, Wolf and Strauss.
Presented in the cosy Drill Hall Gallery, to an impressively large audience seated among the current Robert Boyne’s exhibition, “Liederabend” commenced with the five artists filing into the gallery. Seating themselves along the gallery wall in full view of the audience, they watched each other perform.
A large screen was positioned beside the grand piano on which were projected translations of the lyrics in English, allowing those non-German speakers in the audience to enjoy the sound of the original words, as well as understand what was being expressed in the songs. It worked a treat.
The first half of the program was devoted to the songs of Schubert and Brahms, with Keast accompanied by Lucus Allerton, getting the evening off to a bright start with a delightfully animated performance of Schubert’s Die Manner sind mechant, (All Men are Bad), and two other Schubert compositions.
|Lucus Allerton and Louise Page
Louise Page contrasted Schubert’s dramatic Die junge Nonne with an exquisite rendition of Brahms well-known lullaby, Wiegenlied. Keren Dalzell joined Keast for the Brahms duet, Die Meere and Page delighted with another Brahms lied, Vergebliches Standchen.
|Louise Keast and Keren Dalzell
The second part of the program consisted of a selection of songs by Hugo Wolf and Richard Strauss, shared among the three singers. Highlights included the three Wolf Morike-Lieder, Er Ist’s sung by Keast, Verborgenheit, sung by Dalzell, and Page’s Elfenlied, and an exquisite rendition by Page of Richard Strauss’ Ich Schwebe, for which Rae-Gerrard provided sensitive accompaniment.
It was interesting to observe the contrast in the styles of the three singers. Keast, shining in songs which displayed her effervescent style, Dalzell, more reserved but exhibiting beautifully controlled tone, and Page, whose outstanding artistry and elegance enhanced every song she interpreted. It was also interesting to muse as to whether the exaggerated expressions and gestures favoured by singers of lieder to assist the understanding of lyrics sung in an unfamiliar languages, might now be passé, as the result of the introduction of surtitles.
Hardly lieder, but certainly very welcome, was the stylish piano solo by Allerton, whose amusing introduction to Saint-Saens Dance Macabre, perfectly complimented the rest of the program, as did the delicious wine and cheese refreshments on offer during interval.
Revival House Project has announced two further projects, “Phase One Intent” at the Drill Hall Gallery in October 2017, and “Spanisches Liederabend” at the Wesley Music Centre in April 2018, both featuring Louise Keast and associates. This initial “Liederabend” has certainly wetted an appetite for more of Ms. Keast's forays into the art of Lieder.
All images by courtesy of Peter Hislop