Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Poet Sings

I was treated to a wonderful night out courtesy of my sister-in-law this weekend. We went to see a local trio known as The Poet Sings. The group is made up of a pianist, a soprano and a baritone. This particular concert they were giving had as its theme "Songs of Youth and Love". The program was full of songs which had taken poems as their text, and it was gorgeous.

To begin, Catherine Gardner sang a series of Goethe poems set to music by Schubert. What a combination! It was beautiful. They even included the English words for those of us not so fluent in German.

Then pianist Sandra Mogensen gave us a piano interlude, a suite of waltzes by Ravel that shook you awake! Her specialty is Grieg and she has traced the connections between Ravel and Grieg, and will be performing her special program of the two at the Grieg Museum in Bergen, Norway next month -- what an experience that would be!

Following that we had some English poems sung by baritone Mark Gardner -- some of my favourite poets, like Hardy, Housman, RL Stevenson -- set to music by some marvellous composers, like Butterworth, Vaughn Williams and Finzi. Just gorgeous. I think my favourite, perhaps because I recognized it so quickly, was Housman's When I Was One and Twenty, set by Butterworth.
The second half of the concert was a set of more modern poems set to music by a composer I did not know of at all... Richard Hundley. I enjoyed them immensely - cummings, Dickinson, Joyce and more - on Hundley's website you can hear samples of many of them. I even discovered a new poet, James Purdy.

Overall. a great night out, and one that made me realize how often I went to concerts in university (my roomates were musicians) and how infrequent that habit has become. I'll have to remember how enjoyable it was!

Of course I loved the poetry nearly as much as the music so perhaps that was part of it too. One of my absolute favourite poems set to music ever is Charles Villier Stanford's "The Blue Bird", as sung by Carys Ann Lane and the Oxford Camerata. In fact I like it so much that it was part of our wedding music. Do you have a favourite poem made into a song?

1 comment:

  1. What a glorious programme - some of my favourite composers and poets! Adore Finzi. Also love the VW settings of the poems by Geo Herbert.
    And Stanford's 'The Blue Bird' is my favourite, too! In fact, I think I had the same recording as you. Bi-lingual amitiés from France.


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