Valentine’s Haji

Today’s noon recitalists in the RBA were Andrew Haji and Liz Upchurch.  We had been promised Britten’s Serenade but an absence of non-knackered horn players due to the COC’s Götterdämmerung run scuppered that and instead we got a very varied program of songs and arias on the theme of love and its travails.  Four Brahms songs kicked things off and produced some very fine lieder singing.  Beautiful throughout with fine phrasing, characterisation and diction there was more.  The final “wonnewoll” of Wie bist du, meine Königin was a thing of floaty beauty and there was a real sense of ecstasy in Mein Liebe ist grün.

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A partridge without orange

It’s that time of year which marks the passing of the baton at the COC Ensemble Studio which is traditionally marked by a lunchtime farewell concert by some of the graduates.  Today’s Les Adieux featured soprano Sasha Djihanian, baritone Cameron McPhail and pianist Michael Shannon.

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Land of Smiles

Lehár’s Das Land des Lächelns must have seemed old fashioned even when it opened in 1929 in a Berlin that had already seen Wozzeck and Die Dreigroschenoper.  With its waltzes and gentle chinoiserie it looks back rather than forward musically and makes few demands on its listeners.  Similarly, the plot; a bittersweet romance between an Austrian aristocrat and a Chinese prince had nothing in it to disturb contemporaries though modern audiences might find the cultural appropriation a bit hard to take.  However, if Turandot doesn’t bother you this likely won’t either.

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