Thursday 18 April 2013

Gaelle Arquez & James Baillieu recital

Gaelle Arquez(c) Dominique Desrue
Last night (17 April) we attended a private recital by mezzo-soprano Gaelle Arquez and pianist James Baillieu, given in preparation for their Wigmore Hall concert on Sunday 21 April 2013. Arquez studied musicology at the Paris Conservatoire, going on to win the 2009 Gold Medal Singing Competition, and she is a recipient of the Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera Voice Fellowship. Their recital was of French and Spanish song, combining songs by Reynaldo Hahn, Francis Poulenc and Henri Duparc, with Georges Bizet and Leo Delibes in Spanish mood, plus songs by Agustin Lara, Manuel de Falla and Fernando Obradors.

Possessed of a richly vibrant mezzo-soprano voice as well as a strong sympathy with the French language, Arquez's opening set of songs by Reynaldo Hahn (A Chloris, Trois jours de vendage, L'enamouree and L'heure exquise) were a nicely balanced mix between the well known and the lesser known. She followed with with Francis Poulenc's Violon, C and Fetes galantes. This latter was taken at an amazing speed, with Arquez demonstrating superb linguistic dexterity.

Next came three songs by Henri Duparc, Chanson triste, Elegie, and L'invitation au voyage in beautifully judged performances, followed by Georges Bizet in Spanish mood with Adieux de l'hotesse arabe and Ouvre ton Coeur. Both these latter two were new to me, delightful discoveries. The mood continued with Leo Delibes' Les filles de Cadiz

Arquez and Baillieu then moved to Spain proper with Agustin Lara's Granada, given in a nicely unhackneyed performance, Manuel de Falla's Asturiana from 7 canciones populares and El vito from Fernando Obradors' Canciones clasicas espanoles.

This was a delightful programme, sung by a singer who showed real sympathy with the songs and gave highly vivid performances with strong support from pianist James Baillieu. Gaelle Arquez is definitely a talent to watch.

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