The mezzo-soprano delighted a capacity audience at Christ Church Cathedral for a Coffee Concert with Eric Sweeney in wonderful form as piano accompanist. Opening with a Baroque of three operatic selections, a Handel piece Come To Me Soothing Sleep, was as wonderful as the sunshine streaming in the high windows. The Shakespeare lines from The Tempest with music by Thomas Arne, were expressive with those immortal lines from Where The Bee Socks – Merrily, merrily, shall I live now.
A selection of songs from Faure, which I think were originally composed for his mistress, showed Knowles at her animated best, as she caught well the darkly emotional tone of the work. When she came to a Richard Strauss selection, Morgen was greeted with a silence – a stillness in the audience with Sweeney in fine form on the piano. There was a glorious vocal power with the temptation of chocolate sauce and the surprise of raspberries in champagne.
Her selection from Dring was new to me as settings of more Shakespeare words and there was a distinct feel of Sondheim about the music. The familiar Spring time is ring time from It Was A Lover was a joy before the chilling resonance of Come Away Death and I loved the Hey ho the Holly from Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind, which suited the mood outside the venue.
But it was the dulcet chocolate tones of her work on the South pacific song Some Enchanted Evening, that riveted me with the sound of her laughter will ring in your years. I was in high fidelity for I Could Have Danced All Night and her encore of Somewhere Over The Rainbow, made dreams come true with lemon drops and a rare musical magic.