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June 2017

Sidwell Memorial Concert

Suzanne Pinkerton

Our recital series seems to be in good health, and the latest one was a Liederabend given by Christine Buras and Keval Shah.  This was very much an RAM do.  Christine did a very successful Vocal Studies Masters there, and Keval is, at the moment, still with us.

Before going on to the concert, I'd like to talk a bit about singers and their accompanists.  The Academy is very international, and we have all sorts of combinations across countries working together.  Here we have British Keval playing for American Christine - he also plays for Scottish bass-baritone Michael Mofidian, who was making his début at King’s Place that evening and  also plays for English mezzo Emma Stannard, who was in the audience.  Perhaps the most exotic combination is pianist Somi Kim, who plays for successful recent graduate, baritone Henry Neill.  She is Korean, but comes from New Zealand!  It would be hard to find a more charming duo than Johan Barouin, from France, who could coax the birds out of the trees in Regent's Park and Lorena Paz da Nieto, soprano, from Spain.  And let us not forget a Dream Team - Jâms Coleman (Welsh first language, don't forget the circumflex!)  and our own Mr Mogg from Manchester.  Jâms is a Yeoman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, so Nicholas could not have a more sturdy colleague!

I was highly impressed with Christine's very intelligent programme notes.  And she wore a lovely dress in dark blue, with glitter on the bodice.  You see - you can do both!  She had just the right approach for Schumann's “Frauenliebe und Leben”.  I was interested in what she said about the last song where the wife is mourning hr husband's death, and where I have always thought this had simply jumped ahead till when they were older, but, in my day, people used to say "No, no - he died young".  There is one thing I'd like to mention about Christine's performance which is not in any way  intended to be unkind.  About three songs in, because I knew them so well and I was sitting near the front, I realized she had a little lapse of memory with the words.  it happens to us all, and with a quick, reassuring smile at Keval, she covered it up so cleverly I doubt if anyone noticed.  I'm sure, Stateside, they'd say “Nice, Ma’am!”

This cycle particularly suited Keval's pianistic personality.  You want flowing arpeggios, and a light but strong, skipping touch? Keval's the Man.

In her Brahms group, she sang a great favourite of mine, both to perform and listen to - Vergebliches Ständchen (Serenade in Vain) where the girl slams her window shut (Keval here) on this silly lad who won't leave her alone, was delightful.  Can we do better next time?  You are allowed to laugh at concerts, you know!

I was somewhat relieved to see the texts for the songs by Grieg were in German.  I've never heard them, that I can recall, and would like to hear them again, to get to know them better.  Christine could make Northern songs a speciality - they suit her.    

Sibelius was the last composer represented.  Christine mentions his "uniquely Scandinavian melancholy" - I think the weather must have something to do with it!  There's also a lot of water mentioned! But I'm told Finland is very beautiful if you’re in the right place at the right time.  Christine captured the mood very well.

I wish everyone I've mentioned happy performing, both at home and away.  I miss those who have moved on from the RAM and look forward to cheering on those who haven't!


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