Wanda Procyshyn; Elaine Keillor
Carleton Sound CSCD-1013 (www.carleton.ca/carletonsound)
The previously unrecorded song cycles from nine of Canada's finest composers are performed with intelligence and sensitivity by soprano Wanda Procyshyn and pianist Elaine Keillor in this new recording.
A song cycle is comprised of a number of songs interconnected thematically by the lyrics and/or music. The form was very popular in Europe during the 19th century. “To Music” showcases the evolution of the form in Canada over the course of the 20th century. With an eclectic mix of composers - Healy Willan, Gena Branscombe, Edward Manning, Robert Fleming, John Weinzweig, Jeanne Landry, Euphrosyne Keefer, Patrick Cardy and Deirdre Piper - comes an eclectic mix of topics and compositional choices.
My initial trepidation quickly dissipated upon hearing the interpretations. From Willan's lush To Music to Weinzweig's 12-tone Of Time and the World to the rhythmically challenging Autumn by Patrick Cardy, there does not seem to be anything that Procyshyn and Keillor cannot do. There is the occasional high pitch vocal discrepancy, and the piano may be a little too forward in the mix at times, but these little faux-pas are overshadowed by the sincere performances.
Most striking is the intricate love of detail that surfaces in every song cycle. “To Music” is a recording that demands careful and studied listening to be truly enjoyed and appreciated, but the rewards are well worth the effort.