Brett Polegato and pianist Robert Koortgaard
Brett Polegato and pianist Robert Koortgaard provided an animated theatrical two-hour concert that entertainingly and satisfyingly engaged an appreciative audience who welcomed them back with a standing ovation.
SEPTEMBER 26, 2022
POLEGATO, KORTGAARD AFFIRM RETURN TO LIVE MUSIC
WELL WORTH THE EFFORT AND WAIT
Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com
GRAVENHURST — A two-year hiatus was worth the wait here yesterday as baritone Brett Polegato returned to the Muskoka Concert Association stage.
His richly-pitched voice filling Trinity United Church Sunday afternoon with a mixed program of classically-inspired songs from Schonberg and Boublil’s Les Miz to Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.
Pre-empted by COVID, Polegato and pianist Robert Koortgaard provided an animated theatrical two-hour concert that entertainingly and satisfyingly engaged an appreciative audience who welcomed them back with a standing ovation.
A duo performance of piano and voice that pared down big operatic and musical production numbers to expose the subtle humour of the lyrics more clearly heard alone.
The small audience of 50 and change subtly acknowledged them with nods, smiles and polite laughter in recognizing lines from The Impossible Dream; or seriously why Miss Otis Regrets.
Much of the program, admitted the Niagara Falls-raised Polegato, had an anthem-like quality or romance about it.
All of it performed acoustically “as often the composers originally intended.” Many with bigger than life stories behind them.
Kortgaard exhibited the skillful dexterity and sensitivity of his Julliard training with solos of Franz Grothe’s Illusions and Peter Maxwell Davies’ Farewell Stromness, swelling up and down the keyboard dancing between the black and whites and striking a perfect balance between the subtleness of pianississimo and the thunder-clap of fortississimo.
This as a gentle rain fell outside and the return of MCA’s classically-entrenched live music series progressed.
On Dec. 4 MCA returns to the Opera House for another Sunday afternoon concert featuring the Sultans of String.
Getting out in public — to hear the quality of live artistry again — remains a challenge for many groups and organizations large and small.
But when the steps are made those efforts are richly rewarding as demonstrated by Polegato and Kortgaard whose encore, If Ever I Should Leave You, was made famous by another Canadian, Robert Goulet.
And So It Goes, as lyrics the duo shared from their Bill Joel offering affirmed:
So I would choose to be with you
That’s if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you’re the only one who knows.