Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Side by side: Brahms, Schumann and Frances-Hoad

Schumann, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Brahms; Anna Huntley, Alisdair Hogarth, students from Guildhall School of Music and Drama; Wigmore Hall
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on May 19 2017
Students from the Guildhall School performing alongside Anna Huntley & Alisdair Hogarth in a programme of musical teamwork

This side by side event at the Wigmore Hall at lunch-time on Friday 19 May 2017, saw seven singers (Isabelle Peters, Eline Vandenheede, Lauren Lodge-Campbell, Clara Kanter, Collin Shay, Robin Horgan, Benson Wilson) and six pianists (Krzysztof Moskalewicz, Ljubica Stojanovic, Florent Mourier, Mandee Madrid-Sikich, Rebecca Cohen, Krystal Tunnicliffe) from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama alongside mezzo-soprano Anna Huntley and pianist Alisdair Hogarth. They performed three pieces which required a degree of musical teamwork, Robert Schumann's Spanische Liebeslieder Op.138, for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, bass and piano duet, Cheryl Frances-Hoad's Invoke Now the Angels, for soprano, mezzo-soprano, counter-tenor and piano and Brahms Neue Liebeslieder Walzer Op.65, for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, bass and piano duet.

Each work was performed by a different group of performers with Anna Huntley singing alongside two students in the Cheryl Frances-Hoad, and Alisdair Hogarth being part of a relay of five pianists who played the Brahms.

Robert Schumann's Spanische Liebeslieder (written in 1849) consists of piano vorspiel and intermezzo, and eight vocal items setting German versions of Spanish poems with a solo for each of the singers, a female duet, a male duet and a final ensemble. 

An event like this is an important for students to develop their technique performing lieder in front of an audience. This is a process where the performance is almost more important than the voice, and one of the fascinating things about the concert was seeing the way that the various singers were at different points on their journey towards becoming a finished artist. All four singers in the Schumann were engaging and fully taking control of the stage as they performed. The two women blended beautifully in their duet, and emoted finely but were rather discreet and perhaps a bit careful. Definitely nice girls when they could have done with being a bit naughtier, whereas the two men by contrast took vivid control of the stage. All accompanied with characterful elan by the two pianists.

Cheryl Frances-Hoad wrote Invoke Now the Angels in 2013 for the Prince Consort specifically to be performed between Britten's Canticles. Frances-Hoad asked the poet Kei Miller to provide the striking text and the resulting work for soprano, mezzo-soprano, counter-tenor and piano was powerfully strong with the three soloists having sections ensemble as well as solo moments. It is a terrific piece, though sat oddly between the lighter Schumann and Brahms, and received a powerful performance from Anna Huntley and the three students (soprano, counter-tenor and pianist).

Brahms' Neue Liebeslieder-Walzer Op.65 were written in 1874, a sequence of fifteen songs for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, bass and piano duet, mixing solos, duets and ensembles. The mezzo-soprano, tenor and bass from the Schumann were joined by a new soprano, and accompanied by a relay of five pianists. Whether it was the change in soprano, or the fact that the singers were more relaxed, but you felt that the singers really took control of the stage and projected, the performance was beautifully balanced and very engaging. All four singers were vibrant and fully engaged, well supported by the pianists, giving us some delightfully characterful moments.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts this month