Saturday 13 January 2018

Aiming at paradise: songs from Alisa Firsova, Bryan Hymel & Irini Kyriakidou Hymel

Alisa Firsova
A private concert on Thursday mixed the intriguing talents of pianist/composer Alisa Firsova, tenor Bryan Hymel, soprano Irini Kyriakidou-Hymel and poet Peter Wolrich. The link was the Chateau de Canisy in Normandy where Firsova was resident for a number of years and came to know Wolrich. She set a sequence of Wolrich's poems, from Paradise Poems inspired by his periods at Canisy. And so the evening presented Firsova's Here in Canisy Op.22, Ascend to Freedom & In search of Paradise Op.37 and Unity Op.26.

But because Bryan Hymel is a distinguished dramatic tenor, Firsova had crafted an intriguing programme which combined her music with showcasing Hymel in a number of arias for roles he does not yet sing, 'Wintersturme' from Wagner's Die Walkure and 'Walther's Prize Song' from Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, as well as hearing Irini Kyriakidou-Hymel in 'Elsa's Dream' from Lohengrin. And Firsova wove these together with Liszt's Lugubre Gondola II and Liszt's arrangement of Wagner's Liebestod, plus her own arrangement of the 'Adagietto' from Mahler's Symphony No. 5.

It was lovely to hear relatively intimate performances of the Wagner arias, and Firsova's own songs (preceded by Wolrich reading the relevant poems) proved fascinating with Firsova weaving a seductive web of piano round the voices.

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