The French Connection 6: Nash Ensemble feat. Rebecca Evans (Wigmore Hall, 20 March 2018)
Since last October, The Nash Ensemble has been the ensemble in residence at Wigmore Hall. Most of their shows have featured French music of the past roughly 100 years, some of which I am now sad I missed, having just discovered an insuficiently tapped affinity for it. But let this be a start!
Nash Ensemble / Ian Brown piano
Rebecca Evans soprano
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
Caprice sur des airs danois et russes Op. 79
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Cinq mélodies populaires grecques
Chants populaires (selection)
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
String Quartet in G minor Op. 10
Maurice Delage (1879-1961)
Quatre poèmes hindous
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor Op. 45
This show was supposed to feature Christine Rice, who cancelled. I hope everything is good in her camp, given she had to pull out of the entire run of Ulisse this past January.
I only became aware of the change of artist the day of the show and, for a moment, I considered not attending. But then I thought, hey, why not? It turned out to be the right decision.
First off, it has started to become clear to me that I really enjoy French song – as well as the instrumental output. The way the French handle chord progressions is quite different from everyone else and at this point I still find it surprising and refreshing for the ear (though Rameau remains hit and miss…).
I’d seen Evans twice before as Countess Almaviva and then Rodelinda (just a few months ago) and those didn’t turn me into a fan – though her Rodelinda was properly frightening, so it came pretty close. This, however, showcased her intelligence when it comes to phrasing. I’d say she likes singing this stuff perhaps more than the other things I’d seen her in, as what I sensed was a good deal of spontaneity and even playfulness, neither of which is easy to achieve. There were some limitations to her voice which her obvious feeling for style and well honed stage experience (particularly in the sense of tackling things head on) couldn’t quite overcome and in turn made me think this would be/is fabulous rep for Antonacci. That being said, I would come see Evans again in more of the same.
As far as instrumentals, I loved the Saint-Saëns, but then I normally like what I’ve heard from him. Such fun and playful writing for the winds! That is the right approach in getting yours truly interested, because later on came a lot of string shredding, which for me can be rather much (no fault of the ensemble, they sounded gorgeous). This rep was unusually heavy on the viola (ended with a broken string, too) but our violist’s tone sounded superb even for this wind instrument fan. The other piece I loved (not just liked) was Delage’s Quatre poèmes hindous, where vocals and orchestra fed off each other optimally, plus who knew cello does such a good job doubling up as sitar?! Clearly not me, but I was once again (very) pleasantly surprised.
Conclusion: taking a chance can pay off big time.
Posted on March 30, 2018, in live performances, sopranos, wigmore hall and tagged camille saint-saëns, claude debussy, gabriel fauré, maurice delage, maurice ravel, nash ensemble. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.