Thursday, March 29, 2012

Showtunes in the Music House

I visited the new Musiikkitalo, Helsinki Music Centre, for the first time this week. On 27.3.2012, I saw a West End/Broadway concert with Vantaan Viihdeorkesteri playing, Nick Davies conducting and David Shannon and Jacqui Scott singing.

Music Centre

The evening's repertory consisted of about twenty very famous musical tunes.
A bit too famous, actually. Surely most of the audience don't listen to musicals every day like me, but I'm certain everyone's heard Memory, Don't Cry for Me Argentina and Music of the Night before. The songs I guess the audience wasn't too acquaintanted with (Till I Hear You Sing, Electricity) were few and far in between. All in all, it's not that I mind hearing songs from popular shows. I just think it'd be lovely to sometimes have a Who Am I? instead of the omnipresent Bring Him Home.
That being said, maybe the solists' history justifies some of these choices. Shannon has played Phantom and Jean Valjean in West End lately and will start a new run as Valjean this spring. Scott has performed parts like the title role in Evita and Grizabella in Cats.  Maybe it'd be weird not to have these characters' big songs in there.
What's more, though - I think some songs, like Circle of Life, were slightly odd choices for just two singers. Maybe actual duets would've worked better?

I've heard big orchestra like this only a couple of times before. Out of those times, this night sounded the best, absolutely. The praise the Music Centre has received for their acoustics isn't all empty. The evening was a treat to the ears.
Actually, if I'm completely honest... I enjoyed the instrumental pieces the most. The orchestra played medleys from Oliver!, A Chorus Line and The Producers, and while I also liked the vocalists, those were my favourite parts. I could've easily sat there for the whole night, just listening to the gorgeous tunes from the orchestra. Too bad musicals can't always be accompanied with as many instruments as here!

As for the singers, I think Scott was more enjoyable to watch but Shannon to listen to.
I sat at the very back of the auditorium, at a dizzying height, so I may not be the best one to judge - but I got the feeling Scott's stage presence was stronger than Shannon's. She seemed to get into the mood of whichever song she was singing a lot easier. That being said, I think her voice was a bit too harsh for some of the songs. She overpowered Shannon a bit during their duets, even though his voice is also reasonably powerful. Then again, some of her numbers sounded amazing. I admired her Memory, and Defying Gravity wasn't bad either. The latter was also one of the most powerful orchestra moments, it made chills run down my spine...
Shannon, then. I think he wasn't exactly in his element with faster, cheerier tunes like Luck Be a Lady, but with the ballads, Till I Hear You Sing, Bring Him Home, Can You Feel the Love Tonight... He truely excelled.

The evening ended with a medley of ABBA songs.
This part felt a little awkward to me. I got the feeling that the soloists, Scott especially, were trying way too hard to get the audience to clap and sing along the music. Did someone forget to tell them they're in Finland..? Seeing it was my first time in the Music Centre, I've no idea how wild the audiences who frequent it are - but singing and dancing along is something I certainly don't expect to do and also don't feel like doing at a concert hall.
Also, I found ABBA's Thank You For the Music a slightly boring choice for the encore. I'd rather heard another musical song, seeing those were the focus of the night.

That all said, I enjoyed myself a lot. The repertoire was mostly overdone, but luckily they made it sound good with nice vocals and a gorgeous-sounding orchestra!

Also, got to add that Shannon was my first Jean Valjean ever. They were signing autographs after the concert and I went to tell him that. He was very nice. So nice I didn't feel too embarrassed, having a huge fangirling attack in front of him...
Photo from Wikipedia.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your comment! :) Me too, it was well worth seeing!