On a bright, sunny winter’s day there are few more inviting places to be than the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre positively glowing in the sunlight. When one’s reason for being there is a recital by Jane Archibald with the redoubtable Liz Upchurch at the piano one feels doubly blessed. It was one of the best performances of the many I have attended in that space. They started out with a Mozart concert aria Vorrei, spiegarvi, o Dio. It’s one of those crazy Mozart obstacle courses with sustained high passages, ludicrous leaps and super awkward runs. Jane not only navigated all that with aplomb but actually made the words sound like they mean something. No mean feat. She followed this up with four Fauré songs that were very beautiful and very beautifully sung though without the text in front of me I would have little idea of the words. The third set was described by Ms. Archibald as “Strauss’ greatest hits”, which I think is a pretty fair description of Ständchen, Allerseelen,Morgen and Zueignung. Jane Archibald may just have been put on this world to sing Strauss. This was glorious. Strauss’ beautiful, heart rending melodies and the high German romanticism of the texts were sung and played with heart breaking beauty and clarity. Art song doesn’t get any better. The final set were songs by Roger Quilter; a much under appreciated composer, to texts by Shakespeare, Waller and Shelley. Again we got extremely idiomatic and heartfelt performances. I’m a sucker for English art song generally so I was delighted to see these works included in the programme. The encore, perhaps inevitably, ws the best known air from perhaps Jane’s second best known role; O Sleep why dost thou leave me? from Semele. She would have been fully justified in choosing the other big number! Reviewing a concert like this really does make writing about music seem about as adequate as dancing about architecture.
Photo credits: Kevin Lloyd Photography.