Jazz Da Gama (Canada)

Georgia Mancio sings of a life that is bittersweet. It is not with quite the bitterness of Schubert leider; without, that is, the unglücklich or malheureuse of Schubert’s Winterreise where the words and music creates a desolate – both inner and outer – landscape. But the loneliness; even melancholia of this music suggests a greying mindscape. At least that is the emotional centre of gravity of these songs. Also, Alan Broadbent’s music evokes a Debussy-inspired Reflet dans l’eau rippling, impressionistic mirroring of the greying emotions as if photographs – once bright and cheery are now fading into the night.

Yet, make no mistake, while these songs – perhaps because of the quietude in which they are cast – may sound full of melancholy and loss, the works themselves are extraordinarily and beautifully hopeful. The shades and tones of the music and lyrics always hint at an impending brightening. For instance, after Mr Broadbent plays dark chords, these are invariably followed by ones that are lighter – minors followed my majors and major sevenths – all of which is lifted up by the sparkling in Miss Mancio’s voice. When she sings, for instance: “When day turns to night…” “…dark clouds seem to tell us that they too will pass” you cannot help but being [not only] drawn into her voice, but literally being seduced by the optimism and impending joyous bloom of the whole world.

Every moment is magnificent; unsurpassed in the lyricism and simple grace of Miss Mancio’s lustrous voice which always gently pries open the meaning of the words that she sings. For his part, Mr Broadbent does likewise by nibbling at the melodies, harmonies and rhythms of this gorgeous music as if with la lover’s lips instead of his pianist’s fingers. The result is a wonderful performance, courageously restrained with none of the self-indulgent emotionalism that often mars many other recordings. Delicate yet full of shadowy contrasts, this intense, but never overstated account does eloquent justice to life/music/life. It’s a bona fide masterpiece.