by Lynn on April 7, 2013

in The Passionate Playgoer

Schubert: Source and Inspiration

At the Enwave Theatre, Harbourfront, Toronto. Presented by Art of Time Ensemble. The Prince of Song Revisted. April 5 and 6, 2013. With Andrew Burashko (Piano), Benjamin Bowman (violin), Rachel Mercer (cello), Andy Maize, John Southworth, Danny Michel, Carole Pope, Gregory Hoskins.

Franz Schubert and Carole Pope. This is not a pairing one would think of readily, no matter how drunk or high. But Andrew Burashko, artistic director extraordinaire of the Art of Time Ensemble, did that stone cold sober. The result was terrific.

The purpose of the Art of Time ensemble is to make classical music more accessible to a wider (younger?) audience by adapting it. This evening of Schubert music and the songs he inspired from 5 contemporary musicians is a repeat or a revisit of a show they did a few years ago.

The first half was the source material: Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E-Flat Major. It was played by Andrew Burashko (Piano), Benjamin Bowman (Violin), Rachel Mercer (Cello). I am not learned enough in music to comment how well they played the music. I can comment on their theatricality; their verve in the playing; their being totally in sync. I love the seeming casualness of the enterprise. Burashko wears a jacket, dark shirt and jeans. Bowman also wears a jacket, well worn jeans, shirt and scuffed shoes. Mercer is in stylish pants, dress shoes, a nice top; her long hair is pulled back at the top with the sides flowing free.

As focussed and contained as Burashko is in his body language, concentrating on reading the music and playing, beautifully to my mind, that is as animated as Bowman is. He sways in his seat, often lurching forward with such energy that he rises a few inches from the seat. His feet are rarely flat on the floor. Only the balls of his feet rest there. His left leg lifts to accentuate a point; his right leg splays out, also rising up. He is fascinating to watch and to listen to. Mercer is the most composed (if that is the right word); her facial expressions are at a minimum except for her frequent looks at Bowman, her eyebrows raised, a slight smile knowing the music they are play and how they are playing it, is wonderful.

I am surprised that this music-loving audience applauds loudly between movements. I thought that was a no-no.

The second act is the inspiration of Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E-Flat Major. Eleven songs were composed and sung either by the ‘composer’ or another singer. Andrew Buroshko, a huge lover of Schubert songs, wrote the first song, “Shadow of a Doubt.” It’s a haunting, beautifully crafted work with elegant lyrics, sung by Andy Maize, about a man’s doubt about being a constant, committed lover.

This is followed by songs composed and sung by Andy Maize, John Southwark, Danny Michel, and Carole Pope. Two songs by Martin Tielli were sung by Gregory Hoskins. The songs deal with lost love; obsessive love; tactile love; love of rye whiskey and wine. All were composed on a theme of the Schubert. Some changed the tempo and perhaps slowed it down considerably; others used the exact time period to great effect.

Again all the singers are very casual in jeans, some ripped, some not; leather jackets and Doc Marten boots (Hello Ms Pope). It is all laid back. All wonderful to hear and again, a hugely successful night of music. There are only two performances but so worth the time.


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