Osvaldas Grinius 2007 11 15

Françoise Vanhecke

In brief: Concerts of contemporary, modern vocal music are rather rare today. Concerts in which voice is not treated as material for sound experiments (Meredith Monk, Fàtima Miranda shows, etc.) but is based on academic vocalization sounds even rarer. The twelfth contemporary music festival “At Close Range” presented such a rare gift to Kaunas audience on November 14. The audience could hear the programme prepared by Duo Phoenix from Belgium at M.Žilinskas Art Gallery.


The composition of the duet seems intriguing: singer and clarinet player. The programme is eye-catching as well: only a few known surnames and much unheard contemporary vocal music. A real Klondike for artists searching for new experiences. The soprano Françoise Vanhecke and clarinet player Stephan Vermeersch presented a varied programme in the first part of the concert showing the most diverse possibilities of voice and clarinet timbers combinations. The performers played together and separately using their voices, bas and simple clarinets, drums, and even air balloons for expression.


Complicated atonal opuses were changed by temperamental improvisations (one of the most impressive scenes – duet of air balloons and the song – complaint by Irma Bilbao (Belgium) “Jong Bloed”). “Ave Maria” known from the song of F.Schubert by Volodymyr Runchak (Ukraine) sounded unusually but persuasively. One Lithuanian premiere was presented – the work “Le désir, Improvisatie” created by Vytautas Germanavičius for the duet in particular.


The timber combinations of the instrument and the voice were really astonishing. The impressive sound of bass clarinet combined with professional vocal created the atmosphere full of various moods and colours. The clarinet player joined his voice with the instrument (music piece by Svetlana Azarova (Ukraine) “Outvoice, outstep and outwalk”), created sounds by blowing and inhaling air. The voice of F.Vanhecke does not have outstanding qualities from the academic point of view – it is soft, rather penetrating but not a very strong soprano. Still, the singer used diverse possibilities of voice expressing the nuances of contemporary notes.


The performance “Electroshoked!” performed in the second part of the concert joining voice, light and electro-acoustic music proved that F.Vanhecke was a many-layered personality and had many talents. She told the story of a woman living with an electronic toy using music compositions of various authors, light and video effects. She communicated with the audience directly and moved expressively on the stage.


Even though the performance did not appear too long, the acting of the singer was not persuasive enough. Perhaps it lacked a bit of sincerity, or the singer was emotionally tired. Despite this, the audio-visual environment created by both parts of the concert left a big impression.

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