Magazine article Opera Canada

Isabel Bayrakdarian

Magazine article Opera Canada

Isabel Bayrakdarian

Article excerpt

Think of it as high-tech classical karaoke or a journey back to die future in the realm of art song, hut Isabel Bayrakdarian's latest recording project is an astonishing feat of computerized programming. She'd had Spanish composer Manuel de Falla's Siete canciones populares espanolas (Seven Popular Spanish Songs) in her repertoire for some time, though hadn't performed them recently until North Carolina-based Zenph Sound Productions made an offer the soprano with a science background couldn't refuse. The result is a recording captured live in performance in a concert-hall milieu with accompaniment by a composer who died in 1946. "I wasn't doing a voice-over" Bayrakdarian says."I was trying to capture a sound you would hear in performance. This was the union of two instruments playing 80 years apart.'

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De Falla recorded His 1914 composition with Spanish soprano Maria Barrientos in 1928. Through its wizardry, Zenph lifted the piano part for computer analysis and processing that allows for mechanical reproduction on what functions essentially as a high-end (in this case a 1909 Steinway) player piano. The sophisticated processing is designed to capture and recreate not just the notes, and tempi, but also pedal work, touch, shading and dynamics. The; disc, Tim Spanish Masters. on Zenph Re-Performance (ZS-I00I), features music by Isaac Albeniz and Enrique Granados besides de I Falla, and Barakdaryian also sings the hitter's "Cancion del Fuego Fatuo" from the opera, El amor brujo, and the "Soneto a Cordoba." Cellist Zuill Bailey also performs six of de Falla's Seven Popular Spanish Songs on the disc, and chose to record his part listening to the piano through headphones in a small studio room. Bayrakdarian, however, felt that approach was too restricting, and preferred to be out in the large recording hall standing, as she would in recital, in the curve of the piano. "I needed to make it as Isabel as possible," she says, even if she was accompanying a ghost (and to some degree the ghost of de Falla's original singer). "I needed to be in the space of the music."

Well before the recording sessions in June 2011, she had been sent a recording of the piano part to study because her challenge would be to tailor her performance to de Falla's existing accompaniment, which itself must have been tailored to the needs of the original singer. …

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