January 2009

Art of Time Ensemble – Korngold: Source & Inspiration
January 30, 2009 Enwave Theatre Toronto
Report by David Fujino with photo by Stanley Fefferman
Erich Korngold is the composer who wrote the music for films like Captain Blood (1935) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), starring Errol Flynn.

Korngold received the Academy Award for both films.

For this, Korngold has been dismissed as a hack, but that perception got turned around 360 degrees this evening by its producer, Andrew Burashko at the piano, along with the violinists Stephen Sitarski and Ben Bowman and cellist Tom Wiebe, as they played for us the 5-part, 1930, Suite for piano, two violins and cello.

Like his film scores, this Korngold suite — a collection of songs and songs borrowed — was not only an experiential outpouring that was dramatic and varied, and filled to bursting with brilliant and fleeting images, it was a richly chromatic expression of late Romantic music.

The second half of the concert — a rather creative idea — involved three songwriter/performers who each wrote two songs based on Korngold's suite. Thanks to Burashko's smart programming sense (and CBC Radio), we got a privileged glimpse into the individual creative process.

Danny Michel with The Art of Time Ensemble
Songwriter Danny Michel's "The Island Queen" was developed from a short phrase he liked in the suite's cello introduction. "The Island Queen" — the name of a tiny bar in Central America — at first had a drunken sailor rhythm, which eventually became Michel's lovely and calming, sung and strummed refrain to a loved one, "Try harder for me, try harder for you, the Island Queen will help us through..." I guess you could describe its sinewy-at-the-core style as alt-pop, or even pop rock, in style.

Next, the world of the cabaret walked and moonwalked onto the stage in the form of tall John Southworth who sang in a jaded and theatrical voice, "bring up the violins, take down the brass", while the musicians played the dark-sounding arrangement. In "Athabaska" he sang cryptically and effectively about "cyborgs and werewolves ... the fourth dimension is about to land" in a wearied, Loud Reed tone of voice.

Martin Tielli, the third guy up, looked different and sounded different — with his dove grey suit and feathered dove grey cap — as he proceeded, in his fastidious manner, to sing his own song, "Lied Two", based on Korngold's "Lied" (song). Sometimes — in a single breath line — Tielli would sing breathy, tight throated, then suddenly open throated.

His second song, based on the 'Grotesque' movement of Korngold, was suitably concluded when Tielli sang — "Relax."

Suite for piano, two violins and cello (1930) by Erich Korngold
Stephen Sitarski — violin
Benjamin Bowman — violin
Tom Wiebe — cello
Andrew Burashko — piano

Six brand new songs inspired by the Suite, written and performed by
Danny Michel, Martin Tielli, John Southworth
Stephen Sitarski — violin
Steven Dann — violin
Tom Wiebe — cello
Andrew Burashko — piano

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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Stanley Fefferman
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