A program devoted exclusively to the music of Bach is sufficient to create considerable interest. But there was more to make Saturday night's presentation by the New Music Associates, at the Conservatory Concert Hall, an outstanding event.
It was the first Toronto appearaance of Montreal contralto Maureen Forrester. The singer has one of the loveliest voices we have been privileged to hear in some time. It is a big voice, warm and lyric in quality, and Miss Forrester used it intelligently.
There were times when her control was not absolute and others when her work had rough edges, but they are weaknesses that may be attributed to youth and inexperience. Her outstanding selection, despite competion from accompanists, was Es Is Wollbracht from the St. John Passion, which was both exciting and emotional.
The other highlight of the performance was the Goldberg Variations, played by pianist Glenn Gould. That the work, originally written for harpsichord with two keyboards, should be played at all was a major undertaking. That it should be played well made it a superlative achievement.
And Mr. Gould played with a technical brilliance that gave the 30 variations individuality and clarity, now exciting and dramatic, at other times pensive, graceful or even playful, with lyric and staccato passages alternating. Yet there was a note of disappointment for this listener, for much of the obvious emotional interpretation Mr. Gould put into his work rarely became more than viusal for us.
Superb though Mr. Gould was as soloist, he was less than satisfactory as accompanist. The piano set the pace in the two fast movements of the Sonata for Violin and Piano in C minor, and it was a pace that gave little opportunity for violinist Morry Kernerman, who, indeed, seemed ill at ease through the entire performance.
And if Mr. Gould was inconsiderate of the violinist, he was quite unkind to Miss Forrester. The piano accompaniment to her songs was generally too loud and too demanding.
On the other hand, Mr. Gould's playing of the continuous part of the Trio Sonata from the Musical Offering was a masterly performance. The other performers were Mr. Kernerman, Nicholas Fiore, flute, and Isaac Mamott, cello. The work was pleasantly presented and we found most interest in the long, lively second movement.
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[Last updated June 13, 1996]