Benjamin Britten’s Saint Nicolas Cantata is never an easy work to mount. It requires coordinating tenor soloist, orchestra, choir, children’s choir and boy soloists with music that has many challenges. When successful, it is more than a dramatic telling of the life and legend of the saint from whom Santa Claus is derived, not that there is anything about Christmas in the work.
Once again, Noel Edison put together a stellar cast. Tenor Lawrence Wiliford had the power required for the declamatory high points and the lyricism for the prayerful solo sections; the Elora Festival Singers sang with dramatic strength and expressive nuance; the Elora Festival Orchestra managed all the nasty rhythms and supported the singers and the drama effectively; the Guelph Youth Singers, led by Markus Howard was stunning in its antiphonal role from the back of the church; boy soprano, Liam Fairbairn was as clear and focused in his sound as I have ever heard in this particular role. Notable in their orchestral solos were violinist Bénédicte Lauziѐre and cellist Mary Katherine Finch. The rafters almost trembled during the chorales that included audience participation. This was a performance that could have done justice to an English cathedral!
The Guelph Youth Singers opened the program with a delightful American camp meeting song arrangement, Rise up Fathers, Rise.
Soprano Karina Gauvin
Benjamin Britten's Saint Nicolas Cantata
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Benjamin Britten's Saint Nicolas Cantata
Cellist CAMERON CROZMAN creates a spectacular ‘Celebration of Song’
Review by David Richards
Toronto ON July 17th 2017
Finally after a supper break, the Festival continued with a recital by a 22 year old Canadian cello sensation who has been honing his skills at the Paris Conservatoire for the past five years. Cameron Crozman put together a program of music mostly derived from vocal sources. Brahms song transcriptions, Vaughan Williams Six Studies in English Folk Song, Beethoven’s 7 Variations on Bei Männern, welche Liebe Fühlen and arrangements of Wagner, Fauré and Poulenc formed the first part of a program that tied in beautifully with the theme of the Festival, 'a Celebration in Song'.
Crozman gave a completely convincing performance of a new work he had commissioned from Kelly-Marie Murphy entitled The Book of Elegant Feelings which explored a wide variety of sonorities that gave rise to any number of musical emotions.
The main work of Crozman's program was Mendelssohn’s Cello Sonata No. 2 in D major, Op 58. In his performance of the work, we were listening to a mature artist with a profound musical imagination.
It is not enough to say that Crozman made the instrument sing. He found the breathtakingly sonourous tonal colours of his 1696 'Bonjour' Stradivarius that he has on loan from the Canada Council for the Arts. He created musical lines that sent goosebumps through my body. Together with his outstanding collaborative pianist, Leslie De’Ath, the music was as uplifting as anything I have heard in a very long time.
The Elora Festival will resume on Wednesday July 19th with a program that will combine the National Youth Choir and the Elora Festival Singers. The Festival continues until July 30th.
If a day in Elora is a pleasant escape, a weekend makes the trip truly fulfilling!
NOEL EDISON brings together a dramatically powerful SAINT NICOLAS CANTATA
Cellist Cameron Crozman
KARINA GAUVIN shines in a program of art songs
After a splendid day at the Elora Festival on Saturday, a second day in a row with promising performances made staying over until Sunday irresistible as there were three enticing performances scheduled for the afternoon and evening: soprano Karina Gauvin in recital, Benjamin Britten’s Saint Nicolas Cantata directed by Noel Edison, and finally the young Canadian cellist Cameron Crozman in recital.
First up was Karina Gauvin, a Canadian soprano with an international reputation, along with her collaborative pianist Leslie De’Ath. Gauvin has been hailed as “one of the world’s great interpreters of the music of Handel” and the “Canadian Queen of Baroque”. She was last heard in Toronto in March of this year with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in a program appropriately titled The Baroque Diva. She is familiar to Elora Festival audiences having appeared several times in the past.
Yesterday’s recital began with three of Haydn’s English canzonettas and proceeded on to a set of old American songs arranged by Aaron Copland. She mixed the sentimental with the humourous and displayed her powerfully dramatic voice with all its shades of colour and vocal agility. Next came two of Cantaloupe’s Chants d’Auvergne, the second of which, Baïlero, was especially haunting. Gauvin finished her programme with two Spanish influenced art songs, Guitare and Adieux de l’hotesse arabe by Georges Bizet. Her encore, Les filles de Cadix by Leo Delibes displayed both her vocal acrobatics and comedic flair. It’s no wonder that Elora Festival Manager Chris Sharpe introduced her as the most beautiful sounding soprano he has ever heard.