by Craig Brinker
Andrew Cyr, founder and conductor of the Metropolis Ensemble, brought together a well-rounded set of composers to share three new vocal works this past weekend at (le) Poisson Rouge, including a dynamic reimagining of Berlioz's Romantic song cycle, Le Nuits d'Ete, by six diffrerent composers.
First on the program was Mohammed Foirouz's Audenesque, a setting that mixed texts of W.H. Auden's "In Memory of of W.B. Yeats" and Seamus Heaney's poetic memorial to Joseph Brodsky, "Audenesque." The strong performance was led by the talented mezzo Kate Lindsey, who calmly navigated the virtousic vocal part with quick dynamic and registerial changes. Foirouz wove many different moods and styles throughout the work, choosing his orchestral colors with care and always making sure the text remained the primary focus.
The evening's centerpiece, a modernization of Berlioz's song cycle Le Nuits d'Ete, showcased the work of six new composers and a passionate performance by soprano Kiera Duffy. In his remarks before the performance, Andrew Cyr cited the parameters given to the composers: Berlioz's melodies must stay intact, but that the accompaniment could be recomposed without restriction. The results, however, were a mixed bag.