For the first Coffee Concert of the new year Lynn Cahill served up a real world-class treat at Christ Church Cathedral with mezzo soprano Bridget Knowles and Deirdre Long on piano.
It was a bright crisp morning and it was wonderful to be wafted back to Purcell in the 17th Century with Shakespeare’s lines – Hark, The Echoing Air. While some of the choices better suited an evening concert with lines about moons and moonlight, the vocal quality was beautiful and memorable. The sickly sweet quality of romantic death came across expressively in Sweeter Than Roses.
A Schubert lieder selection showed the power and interpretative quality of Knowles work and even a Serenade was a joy in the echoing last line – Come give me joy. Night And Dreams was beautiful and Deirdre Long shone in the heart pulse of the piano work. This piano skill was again evident in the whimsical The Trout.
Singer and pianist combined to give a freshness to some remaining Duparc melodies. Due to mental illness Duparc destroyed much of his compositions and what remains has been elevated to special interest. Sad Song was just that – eyes full of sadness – drown myself in your brightness.
The contrast between delicate piano and powerful soprano was special in Phidyle and it was a moment to savour. Audiences are used to Three Shakespeare Songs from Madeline Dring but Knowles served up seven pieces, neatly closing a circle that began with Purcell’s variations on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
I loved the airy humour of Springtime is ringtime and the come hither suggestion of Under The Greenwood Tree and the wonderful finale – Blow Thou Winter Wind.
The grapevine suggests that bad news might be coming to this venue from The Arts Council but in the words of Ludwig Rellstab – Have no fear of those who might listen and betray. For an Arts Minister to allow anything to happen to Christ Church would be a stab indeed in the heart of a growing audience.