Fantastic celebration of two Bermudian talents
The evening gave us a chance to celebrate the talents of two Bermudian musicians on the brink of stellar careers: Kerri Dietz, mezzo soprano, and Leidy Sinclair, violin.
The Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts programme commenced on Monday with Dietz singing How Pure a Light from Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice.
The aria describes Orpheus’s emotions as he first enters the magical realm of the spirits, and is punctuated and supported by a richly textured string and piano accompaniment.
Dietz’s voice is powerful and perfect for this role. Kathleen Ferrier, whose interpretation of Orpheus remains definitive, comes to mind.
Next came Benjamin Britten’s Winter Words, Op 52 — eight songs from poems by Thomas Hardy, with piano accompaniment.
The Hardy poems are miniature masterpieces, glimpses of different worlds through apparently trivial, but highly significant moments. They are all irrevocably and uncompromisingly sad, if not downright gloomy.
For instance, At the Railway Station, Upway shows a little boy with a violin trying to comfort a chained convict while the warden looks on with a benevolent smirk.
The piano accompaniment is highly emphatic and complex, alternating dramatic chord work with complex liquid arpeggios. Although brilliantly executed, Maya Soltan’s was a fraction too dominant for us to concentrate on the songs themselves.
Dietz finished the first half with Igor Stravinsky’s The Faun and the Shepherdess, Op 2, which she explained was composed as a gift from Stravinsky to his first wife, Katya Nosenko. Sung in Russian by Dietz, it’s thematically rather similar to an Ovid metamorphosis but ends with the heroine’s death by drowning after a prolonged pursuit.
The second half included String Quartet No 14 in D minor, Death and the Maiden. Introduced by Leidy Sinclair, it allowed Halcyon Quartet to show us their superb teamwork and expert musicianship.
Halcyon’s version was the best I have heard of this sad, transcendent, sublime work.
The concert finished with Dietz singing Ernest Chausson’s Chanson Perpetuelle Op 37. This is an interesting and well executed song, but not an ideal finale because it ends with another drowned corpse we can sadly lay out and grieve over alongside Eurydice, the Shepherdess, Britten’s Choirmaster and, of course, Schubert’s Maiden.