Review: Winnipeg Symphony premiere of Stafylakis song cycle based on D.H. Lawrence’s “The Ship of Death”

Posted on: October 24, 2019

“The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s Friday night program featured the world première of Into Oblivion by WSO Composer-in-Residence Harry Stafylakis, showcasing French-Canadian bass-baritone Philippe Sly,” writes Holly Harris in Saturday’s (10/19) Winnipeg Free Press (Canada). “The highly introspective, three-part orchestral song cycle based on D. H. Lawrence’s harrowing poem of 1929, ‘The Ship of Death’ … became its own ideal vessel for Stafylakis’ take-no-prisoners compositional style…. The epic work four years in gestation also highlights the versatility of his compelling artistry, alternatively fueled by his own head-banging ‘metal’ ethos … and his ability to spin spiderwebs of gossamer light instrumental textures. [Music Director Daniel] Raiskin … superbly [led] the players while displaying his full commitment to the often-densely written, high octane orchestration…. The entire second half of the solemn program featured Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, Op. 45… The Russian-born maestro … led the players with passionate zeal throughout…. This concert also featured the maiden voyage of ‘EnCue,’ a real-time program notes/commentary app synchronized with the live performance,” and the orchestra performed Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise in remembrance of WSO violinist Meredith McCallum, who died unexpectedly last month.

Posted October 24, 2019