Osborne and Haji

SONY DSCYesterday’s free lunchtime concert should have been the first opportunity to see Simone Osborne and Gordon Bintner in recital together but, sadly, Gordon had the lurgy so, if you want to see them perform together you will just have to go and see L’elisir d’amore at the COC.  Fortunately Andrew Haji was able to jump in at short notice.  Not such a bad guy to have on the bench!

Andrew started out with Santoliquido’s I canti della sera.  I had heard him sing these before at Mazzoleni but it was good to hear them again.  Genuine Italian art song isn’t all that common and these show the voice off nicely.  There was both some lovely limpid singing and plenty of power when needed.  He’s a pretty good story teller too.  He also gave us the three Duparc songs that he and Liz Upchurch, once again at the piano,  gave us earlier in the year.  Again the standout was Le manoir de Rosemonde, a most beautiful and haunting song given the full treatment here.

Simone’s sets were well chosen.  She started off with three Fauré songs; Notre amour, En prière and Après une rêve.  These could be cloyingly sentimental but Simone’s simple, entirely sincere approach avoided that.  Her second set featured three of the Strauss opus 10 songs; Allerseelen, Die Nacht and Zueignung.  I love these songs with a fiery passion and I really enjoyed hearing them sung comparatively unoperatically.  I don’t think a song like Zueignung, here dedicated to Judith Forst, needs overegging.  The music is teetering on over the top and the singer needs to stay in emotional control.  Here sincerity triumphed over artifice.  The second set closed out with three Copland settings; Long Time Ago, Simple Gifts and We Gather at the River.  The naive text and its simple setting sits on top of a deceptively subtle piano line.  The combination of Simone’s singing, back in simple and sincere mode, and Liz’subtly articulated playing was a winner.

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There were encores too.  Andrew gave a full on and very fine rendition of Dein ist mein ganzes Herz and Simone produced Over the Rainbow to match the bluebirds on her dress!  All in all a very satisfying concert.

Photo credit: Karen E. Reeves

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