October's concerts seemed to feature artists who are frequent visitors to Leicester. By contrast November has a number of debuts in the city.
In the Lunchtime Series each year, the world-famous pianist Julius Drake brings to the city a young singer embarking on what looks to becoming a glittering career. Such a one is soprano Ruby Hughes, already performing throughout Europe. One can see why.
In a programme of Britten and Mahler she displayed a strong, utterly secure voice. As befits a rising opera star, she had a fine stage presence and conveyed penetratingly the world of each song in Mahler's Ruckert Lieder and Britten's A Charm of Lullabies.
In the latter, she made one's hair stand on end in the song which portrays a mother threatening her child with nightmares if the child does not go to sleep. Some lullaby! In the gentler moments in this song cycle and in the Mahler she spun a beautiful web of sound, though the acoustic did not always seem to allow the softest singing to float as one felt it might.
Throughout, her partner at the piano made an immense contribution to the mood of each song. No wonder, as an accompanist he seems to have his pick of many of the world's finest singers. He both supports and contributes. A fortnight later, the violinist Jennifer Pike and her partner at the piano Tom Poster performed a largely Czech/Hungarian programme. This was an absolutely outstanding recital.
Part of its wonder was its journey through a number of little- known works which proved all of compelling musical interest, ranging from the heart stopping lyricism of Dvorak's Four Romantic Pieces to Janacek's Violin Sonata written in 1914, a characteristically roller coaster ride of alternating lyricism and dramatically savage explosions. With a Mozart Sonata and a piece by Miklos Rozca - who later was well-known for his film music, notably Ben Hur - this was a programme which conveyed the pleasure to be had from hearing, at least for this listener, compelling music previously unknown. It was also a programme of daunting range but delivered to memorable effect.
Poster's piano playing was throughout wonderfully appropriate to the various demands of the programme. His contribution in the Janacek was especially memorable.
Pike was, of course, known nationally as the youngest winner ever of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition. Since then she has matured into a major artist, combining what is clearly a searching musical understanding with a richness and range of tone many a solo violinist would die for. Her completeness as an artist is perhaps best shown by something which might appear to be of little consequence, her manner of playing. There is clearly passion in spades.
A service of YellowBrix, Inc.
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