Sunday, 21 October 2018

Independent Opera Showcase Recital at Wigmore Hall

Michael Mofidian, Svetlina Stoyanova, Ida Ränzlöv, Claire Lees, Nino Chokhonelidze (Photo Independent Opera)
Michael Mofidian, Svetlina Stoyanova, Ida Ränzlöv, Claire Lees,
Nino Chokhonelidze (Photo Independent Opera)
Independent Opera Showcase; Claire Lees, Michael Mofidian, Svetlina Stoyanova, Ida Ränzlöv, Nino Chokhonelidze; Wigmore Hall Reviewed by Anthony Evans on 19 October 2018 Star rating: 3.5 (★★★½)
Four young singers in a mixed recital with opera, song and a new commission

Independent Opera was founded in 2005 and has built a reputation for supporting outstanding young artists entering the profession as William Bollinger, the Chairman, pointed out “to grow talent, you must empower it. This is the purpose of Independent Opera.” So, believing passionately about supporting new artists the organisation encourages operatic talent, through mentoring and financial support.

For its showcase event, the Independent Opera’s Scholars’ Recital at the Wigmore Hall on Friday 19 October the four young singers Claire Lees (soprano), Michael Mofidian (bass-baritone), Svetlina Stoyanova (mezzo-soprano) and Ida Ränzlöv (mezzo-soprano) were accompanied by the prizewinning pianist Nino Chokhonelidze. The programme included Rossini, German lieder, Scandinavian song and a world premier from the Latvian composer Eriks Ešenvalds.



It’s always a treat to hear the cream of a new crop of singers embarking on their careers but by the very nature of these patchwork concerts different tastes and competing interests, the shilly-shallying and furniture removals between numbers can all make it difficult to maintain the energy and pace let alone the atmosphere of a concert. It’s no surprise then that this concert was something of a curate’s egg. Thankfully each of the singers had their moment in the sun.

Michael Mofidian has a seductive bass-baritone, excellent diction and a tousled haired charm. He gave a charismatic reading of the Mozart’s 'Catologo' (from Don Giovanni) and whilst Ēriks Ešenvalds’ Water Lilies was hauntingly ethereal, it was in the Anton Arensky songs that he shone. Clearly relishing the music his voice was thrillingly expressive.

Claire Lees crystal clear soprano has bags of power and sparkles at the top. It’s ironic then that she sounded at her best when she really dialled it back and gave the most beautifully restrained performance of Clara Schumann’s 'Warum willst du and’re fragen'.

We didn’t really hear enough of the mezzo-soprano Svetlina Stoyanova but she charmed everybody with a joyously impish rendition of Rossini’s 'La Danza' from Les soirées musicales. It’s exhilarating to hear coloratura executed with such insouciant charm.

The real highlight for me was the mezzo Ida Ränzlöv. She’s one of those performers who demands attention and from the moment she began Ravel’s Deux melodies hébraïques she got it. She held the audience and drew them in. Her large palette of vocal colour was deployed with insight and finesse and she relished every word, switching effortlessly between styles. On this evidence she could sell ice to the Eskimos.

Nino Chokhonelidze accompanied with intelligence and sensitivity.
Reviewed by Anthony Evans

Elsewhere on this blog:
  • Damn fine music: Stanford's Mass Via Victrix (1914-1918) receives its belated premiere  - feature
  • A visit to Italy at the Oxford Lieder Festival (★★★★) - concert review
  • Untold riches - music from Estonia & the Baltic at the Oxford Lieder Festival (★★★★) - concert review
  • Southbank Sinfonia and Vladimir Ashkenazy in Grieg, Prokofiev and Beethoven (★★★★)  concert review
  • A Bernstein Celebration - London English Song Festival - concert review
  • Hansel & Gretel: a nightmare in eight scenes (★★★) - theatre review
  •  Something for everyone: Gershwin's Porgy and Bess from English National Opera (★★★★)  - opera review
  •  Handel's Radamisto from English Touring Opera (★★★★½) - Opera review
  • Portrait of a life (or many): Art songs from the African diaspora (★★★★) - concert review
  • Crowd-funding & collaboration: new choral music from Lumen  - interview
  • Double concerto for bandoneon and violin (★★★½) - CD review
  • The choral music of Richard Allain (★★★½) - CD review
  • Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots returns to the Paris Opera - Opera review
  • Modified Rapture: Verdi's Aida from the Met (★★★½) - Opera review
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