Tyler Duncan - Perfection & A Bit MoreThursday, December 22, 2011
What could possibly be wrong with going to a wonderful concert (of a series of which I have attended for 10 years) Early Music Vancouver’s The Bach Cantata Project – Festive Bach Cantatas for Christmas? Consider that I went with my good friend Graham Walker who like me is an enthusiast of all things baroque. Add to this the fact that we know many of the usual suspects on stage, from the virtuoso violinist and director Marc Destrubé to his former musicians from the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Paul Luchkow, Jenny Essers, Angela Malmberg, Masako Matsumoto, Glenys Webster, Natalie Mackie and the two bears, the "Happy Bear"Steve Creswell on Viola and the "Koala Bear" Nathan Whitaker on Cello.
If that weren’t enough there was stalwart oboist Washington McClain and organist (not wearing his trademark red glasses) Michael Jarvis.
But perfection, can, paradoxicallay, be even more so if you feature two natural horn guys, the renowned Andrew Clark and Steve Denroche. This instrument is incredibly hard to play (particularly in playing the wrong notes every once in a while and something that never happened at this concert). No concert featuring Cantata BW V 52 False Welt, dr trau ich nicht with its Sinfonia borrowed from the Brandenburg number 2 could be accurate without those horns.
There were four singers, soprano Shannon Mercer, alto Laura Pudwell (excellent as always) newcomer tenor (he would have looked even more comfortable and casual serving me a hamburger on skates back in my Texas of the mid 50s with his swirl of hair in the front of his head) and baritone Tyler Duncan.
The four singers did what they were supposed to do, sing with efficiency as professionals are wont to do. But here is where the perfect concert (after ten years of them am I beginning to take them for granted?) became something quite different.
My friend Graham Walker and I from our vantage point on the second row in the front just marvelled at baritone Tyler Duncan’s performance. And this was most evident in his singing ther recitativo for bass - I Christenheit! Wohlan, so mach die bereit in Bach's Cantata BW V 91, Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ.
I am not a legitimate music critic but it seemed to us, and to me, that the man was singing with a passion, with a presence, with volume, with diction and with something else I could not quite pin down and which made this Cantata Project on its 10th year the most memorable of all.
In ballet I have seen Evelyn Hart, and I have experienced local actor Bill Dow play Glengarry Glen Ross in a performance that has never been matched by anybody else. I can add to these unforgettable instances of pure talent that of Tyler Duncan’s last night.
A little bird has informed me that a local arts organization is mounting the Pirates of Penzance for next fall. I can think of one handsome young man who with sword in hand will push all those tenors off the deck.
Best of all Tyler Duncan is one of ours, Vancouver’s very own. Perfection does not have to be dull when there is more.