David Greco, baritone
John Martin, piano
Wesley Music Centre, Forrest 1 July
Reviewed by Len Power
Exploring the eternal themes of wandering, belonging, lost and unattainable love, David Greco, baritone, and John Martin, piano, provided a feast of glorious music in this Art Song Canberra concert.
Australian born David Greco’s rich baritone has been heard internationally with engagements by some of the world’s most exceptional ensembles and festivals and he has worked on the cutting edge of the early music movement in Europe. He has appeared in roles with Opera Australia and Pinchgut Opera as well as concerts with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and at the Melbourne Recital Centre.
Pianist, John Martin, has appeared with David Hobson, Marina Prior, Yvonne Kenny and many other major Australian artists in concert and cabaret. He is now gaining a reputation as a fine composer with some thirty works published.
The first half of the concert explored English art songs by the composers Herbert Howells, Roger Quilter, Ivor Gurney, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Henry Purcell. The songs chosen showed the full range and quality of David Greco’s great voice. He was equally at home with highly dramatic passages as well as the control and tenderness required for quieter moments. Highlights included three contrasting songs by Gurney, ‘It Was A Lover And His Lass’ by Quilter, ‘Linden Lea’ by Vaughan Williams and ‘In My Black Dismal Dungeon of Despair’ by Purcell. John Martin provided an especially fine accompaniment for Gurney’s ‘Desire in Spring’.
Although his voice had shown no sign of difficulty, David Greco wisely chose to take a short unscheduled break due to the effects of a recent cold. John Martin filled in with two superbly played piano solos by Grieg and Debussy.
Returning after interval, David Greco continued the concert without problem. He sang 15 selections from Franz Schubert ‘Winterreise’ song cycle, a test for any singer. He gave a sensitive performance of the first song, ‘Gute Nacht’ (Good Night), and displayed fine control and emotion in the song ‘Rast’ (Rest). The hint of madness in ‘Der Greise Kopf’ (The Old Man’s Head) was well sung and the final song, ‘Der Leiermann’ (The Hurdy-Gurdy Man) was memorable for the haunting quality he gave it.
As well as singing and playing so well, both Greco and Martin gave relaxed and informative information about the works performed. Their easy rapport with the audience added much to the enjoyment of this memorable concert.
Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on his ‘On Stage’ performing arts radio program on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3.30pm on Artsound FM 92.7.