blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Friday, July 15, 2016


Maesha Brueggergosman at the weekend, introduced by Evelyn Greenberg who said she (Maesha) was the same girl as when she'd first been noticed in Ottawa 20 years ago, was the star of a concert that was packed out. This singer has had a tough life since her student days; her triumph over the tribulations have given her charisma and a loyal fan club. She has a flamboyant stage presence. Unfortunately I was feeling tired that evening and not in the right frame of mind to appreciate it very well; I found her too operatic for the concert hall, and for the delicate Duparc setting of Baudelaire's poem L'Invitation au Voyage, in particular. My father taught me and all his other sopranos to sing like choirboys, so perhaps that's why I have trouble tolerating a pronounced vibrato. I know that it generates more resonance; it is probably just a matter of taste. I didn't think I'd enjoy what she was going to do with Schoenberg, listed further down the programme, so I slipped away before the second half. Maybe I missed something worthwhile.

Hélène Brunet, on the other hand, who sang yesterday at the same venue, with Valerie Dueck at the piano, is more restrained, with a fresher voice. Her stage presence seems more natural, too. She opened with a flourish, singing a Baroque aria, Giuseppe Maria Orlandini's Da torbida procella, contrasting it next with Giovanni Porta's Madre diletta, abbracciami, in a later style, more like Pergolesi than like Handel. Mozart's Exsultate Jubilate is a more famous piece, brilliantly sung by Ms. Brunet, with an impressive flourish of ornamentation in place of the usual high C at the end of the Alleluia. Imagine! Mozart was only 16 when he composed it.

Julian Armour's 'cello made an appearance for André Previn's wordless Vocalise and then she presented us with a series of Grieg songs.

Edvard Grieg* seems to be having a revival at the moment. Die Prinzessin seemed awfully like the Delius song Twilight Fancies, same story. I have just googled it to discover that Delius came across the words of the song in a Norwegian collection, so it is the same, just in a different translation and a different setting. Then followed the setting of an Ibsen poem Mit einer Wasserlilie ... I knew that one, having tried it out myself once, ditto Ein Schwan (En svane), easy to like when you're a romantic teenager, but hard to keep under control while you're building up to its climax. Ms Brunet did better than I ever did. She finished the Grieg section with Ich liebe dich, may have been singing in Norwegian rather than German; I didn't recognise that song and couldn't make out its words. My only criticism of Ms Brunet's singing was that her consonants, Ts and Ds particularly, aren't always clearly enough enunciated.

Psyché by Emile Paladilhe sung in French, then to finish the programme one of the lovely, unforgettable Chants d'Auvergne by Canteloube: Baïlèro.

"I don't want this to stop," she said, and meant it. "I want another two hours!" –– charming the audience.

She repeated the Mozart Allelulia as an encore, but then we had to call it a day.

* As an aside: my husband Chris wants me to add that he works with a software engineer who happens to be the great grandson of Edvard Grieg, although Canadians pronounce his name Gregg.

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