ISABEL BAYRAKDARIAN @ WMCT’S “MUSIC IN THE AFTERNOON” reviewed by Stanley Fefferman

February 25, 2010, Koerner Hall, Toronto.


In a Bayrakdarian concert there are many moments that melt the heart and take away the breath, but none are more compelling than moments when it appears her song is riding the currents of her husband, Serouj Kradjian’s, sensitive piano.

 

Their program had plenty of variety—28 songs from cycles by 7 composers including Obradors, Heggie, Ravel, Bellini, Poulenc, Berlioz, and Gomidas, the tragic founder of 20th Century Armenian classical music whose songs bring thoughts “Too deep for tears.” Mr. Kradjian orchestrated and recently recorded 19 modal songs by Gomidas with Ms. Bayrakdarian. The Gomidas Songs seem to issue from a place in their hearts vast and deep as the memory of a lost homeland.  Ms. Bayrakdarian herself has said, “In many ways, when I sing them … they come from a part of me that is very different from when I sing any other repertoire.”

Highlights of the ‘other repetoire’ this afternoon include stay-in-the-mind performances of Bellini’s “Vaga Luna”, sublime in its submissiveness to love, the more lively seductive postures of Bellini’s “Per Pietà”, and the thrilling “La Ricordanza.” You could imagine gossamer gown, tangled hair and garlands floating slowly on the etherial stream during their performance of “Mort d’Ophelie” by Berlioz. We enjoyed wit and carefree moments in the elegant passages of Poulenc’s “Banalités”; Ravel’s extraverted “Five Greek Folksongs”, which Ms. Bayrakdarian sang in Greek conveyed the unabashed self-delight of country folk. The passion and drama of a cycle of melismatic Spanish songs by Obrador ended the afternoon on a wakeful note.


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