Songs and Sergeis | A Review of Ep. 5

Soprano Rada Tochalna and Pianist Christopher Wong returned to the Lady Marigold Southey Performance Studio last night to compete in round five of the finals for Season 3 of The Talent. 

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Rada was the first of the two finalists to perform. She sang three works with accompaniment from associate artist Janis Cook.

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Rada presented a mixture of songs by European and Australian composers. She began with Micaela’s aria from Act 3 of Georges Bizet’s CarmenJe dis que rien ne m’épouvante. Rada did a fine job of engaging with the character’s emotions within the aria. The interplay between singer and the orchestra is very important within this aria. The ensemble in this piece should be commended, Rada and Janis managed to emulate the intertwining parts of the French Horn solo (orchestral version) and soprano melody. The music of Bizet is undoubtedly enjoyable to many, however the technique required to carry off such music should not be overlooked. Brava!

Following the French aria, Rada moved on to sing Nixe Binsefuss by Austro-Slovene composer Hugo Wolf. The lieder remains for most of its duration in a high tessitura, a very different work to the Bizet indeed.  The running piano lines were beautifully juxtaposed against the syllabic vocal melody.

Lastly Rada and Janis performed Midsummer daydream by Australian composer David Horowicz. The piece was cheeky and fun, with an eclectic mix of stylistic references. The lyrics were particularly enjoyable and lighthearted, a great finale to an impressive set.

Rada’s inspiration piece was Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh by Franz Liszt as performed by mezzo soprano Cornelia Kallisch, with whom Radied studied under in Zurich.

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Pianist Christopher Wong was the second artist to perform on the program.

He performed two works for solo piano. He began with Études-Tableaux Op. 39, No. 5 by Sergei Rachmaninoff and followed with the first movement of Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 7, Op. 83.

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The Rachmaninoff was an impressive display of Russian Romanticism. The Étude consisting of a turbulent theme and a yearning secondary melody. The surging left hand providing a feeling of restlessness. Christopher seemed to effortlessly execute the change of feeling that piece demands, shifting from passionate to somber. A truly captivating work.

His next piece was also an example of Russian repertoire, this time by Sergei Prokofiev. Christopher performed the first movement, Allegro inquieto. As the title suggests the music is of a restless nature. The music begins rather sparse before undergoing several character changes. The pianist is required to capture the mood of the time, we must remember that the piece was during an era of war. This uncertainty and uneasiness was conveyed to an impressive standard, the dissonances typical of the Prokofiev style.

Christopher’s inspiration piece was Franz Schubert’s Piano Sonata No. 21 in B-flat major, D. 960 as performed by pianist Alfred Brendel.

Couldn’t listen live or want to listen again? The podcast is available here.

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