Concert Review:
Elizabeth Connell Memorial Concert, St. John's, Smith Sq.,
London SW1, Saturday 27th April 2013
Elizabeth Connell Memorial Concert

A memorial concert to celebrate the musical life and artistry of the late international opera singer, Elizabeth Connell, and to publicise her annual prize for young dramatic sopranos. Over a dozen internationally acclaimed artists are honouring her memory by performing works that evoke highlights of her long and distinguished career. www.elizabeth-connell.com

Musical direction by Peter Robinson, international guest conductor
Hosted by Kathryn Harries, Director of the National Opera Studio
Proceeds will go towards the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund and to the Elizabeth Connell Prize.


St John's, Smith Square
Smith Square, London SW1P 3HA
Saturday 27th April 2013, 7.30pm


Feat. :

Eugene Asti, Jeffrey Black, Aivale Cole, Julian Gavin, David Gowland, Kathryn Harries, Richard Hetherington, Yvonne Kenny, Elisabeth Meister, Thomas Moser, Morgan Pearse, Penelope Randall-Davis, Peter Robinson, Sally Silver, Stuart Skelton, Christine Teare, Phillip Thomas, Tülay Uyar, Tessa Uys, Sylvie Valayre, David Wakeham, Richard Wiegold


Programme - Pt.1

Aivale Cole : Samoan trad. - Lota Nu'u
Sylvie Valayre / Phillip Thomas : Verdi - La luce langue (Macbeth)
Thomas Moser / Phillip Thomas : Wagner - Mein lieber Schwan! (Lohengrin)
David Wakeham / Mark Packwood : Verdi - Dio di Giuda! (Nabucco)
Kathryn Harries / David Gowland : Janáček - Co chvíla (Jenůfa)
Richard Wiegold / Stephen Rose : Wagner - Wozu die Dienste ohne Zahl (Tristan und Isolde)
Stuart Skelton / Phillip Thomas : Beethoven - Gott, welch Dunkel hier! (Fidelio)
Elisabeth Meister / David Gowland : Puccini - In questa reggia (Turandot)

Interval



Date of Review: 2013/04/28


All illustrations by and © Alban Low. All rights reserved.


Elizabeth Connell Mem. Conc. Flyer

Programme - Pt.2

Linnhe Robertson / Peter Robinson : Fauré / Messager - Souvenirs de Bayreuth (piano duet)
Yvonne Kenny / Linnhe Robertson : Gershwin - By Strauss
David Wakeham / Mark Packwood : Tom Lehrer - She's my girl / I take your hand in mine
Christine Teare / Mark Packwood : Richard Strauss - Allerseelen
Morgan Pearse / Eugene Asti : Finzi - Fear no more the heat of the sun
Penny Randall-Davis / Richard Hetherington : Handel - Ma quando tornerai (Alcina)
Jeffrey Black / Eugene Asti : Schubert - Ständchen
Tessa Uys : Schubert - Impromptu in G flat D 899
Tülay Uyar / Stephen Rose : Mozart - Tiger! Wetze nur die Klauen! (Zaïde)
Julian Gavin / Linnhe Robertson : Massenet - Pensée d'automne
Sally Silver / Eugene Asti : Massenet - Ivre d'amour
Thomas Moser / Phillip Thomas : Ernest Charles - She walks in loveliness
Sally Silver / Tessa Uys : Trad. South African Lullaby - 'Thula thula'

All singers / Peter Robinson & Stephen Rose : Verdi - Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate (Nabucco)
Elizabeth Connell Memorial Concert, St. John's, Smith Sq.,
London SW1, Saturday 27th April 2013
comp. img. of all singers
Fifteen of the seventeen singers - regrettably not caught was Christine Teare. It is miraculous that artist
Alban Low managed to capture so many in such a relatively short time!

Last night's Elizabeth Connell Memorial Concert at St. John's Smith Square was a rare occasion to hear so many of the good and great, stars as well as up-and-coming young talent, of the operatic world in a single concert. A night of glittering stars and also young guns that excelled and impressed greatly. A wonderful blend ranging from soprano right down to bass.

In purely alphabetical order, Jeffrey Black, Aivale Cole, Julian Gavin, Kathryn Harries, Yvonne Kenny, Elisabeth Meister, Thomas Moser, Morgan Pearse, Penelope Randall-Davis, Duncan Rock, Sally Silver, Stuart Skelton, Christine Teare, Tülay Uyar, Sylvie Valayre, David Wakeham, and Richard Wiegold all shone brightly and delighted immeasurably.

Img. of Elisabeth Meister
Elisabeth Meister

The material presented was nothing less than stunningly varied, ranging from Baroque through the great Classics and Romantics to the Modern, as well as some outstanding ethnic traditional from Samoa and South Africa's Zulu nation.

Img. of Aivale Cole
Aivale Cole

The pianists, Eugene Asti, David Gowland, Richard Hetherington, Mark Packwood, Linnhe Robertson, Peter Robinson, Stephen Rose, Phillip Thomas, and Tessa Uys, absolved themselves as excellently as the singers. Linnhe Robertson and Peter Robinson's piano duet of Fauré / Messager's Souvenirs de Bayreuth, opening the second half, was particularly delightful with its humour.
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Img. of Sally Silver
Sally Silver

An event worthier of Elizabeth Connell than last night's Elizabeth Connell Memorial Concert at St. John's Smith Square would be hard to imagine. The concert was to celebrate the musical life and artistry of the late international opera singer, Elizabeth Connell, and to publicise her annual prize for young dramatic sopranos. A bevy of internationally acclaimed artists honoured her memory by performing works that evoked highlights of her long and distinguished career. The event was organised by soprano star Sally Silver and Ms. Connell's sister, and presented by Kathryn Harries, Director of the National Opera Studio. The beautiful setting of St. John's Smith Square with its superb acoustics could hardly have been more appropriate, having been the venue of Elizabeth Connell's last performance.

Img. of Richard Wiegold
Richard Wiegold

The Elizabeth Connell Memorial Concert at St. John's Smith Square unfolded as a magical evening, with Aivale Cole opening with the unaccompanied traditional Samoan Lota Nu'u to beautiful and powerful effect. Sylvie Valayre with Phillip Thomas followed with La luce langue from Verdi's Macbeth and a vividly dramatic performance, emphasised by her somewhat dark-toned voice. Making a giant leap to Wagner, tenor Thomas Moser with Phillip Thomas next sang Mein lieber Schwan! from Lohengrin in a suitably heroic performance whose beauty could turn almost anybody into a Wagner fan.

With another giant leap, baritone David Wakeham with Mark Packwood took us back to the glorious Verdi with Dio di Giuda! from Nabucco, with a beautifully vibrant and expressive voice. Kathryn Harries with David Gowland followed with an intense and dramatic Co chvíla from Janáček's Jenůfa.

Img. of Tulay Uyar
Tülay Uyar

Following a reading from Ms. Connell's obituary in The Guardian, bass star Richard Wiegold with Stephen Rose returned us once more to Wagner with Wozu die Dienste ohne Zahl from Tristan und Isolde in a beautiful and rich, dark voice and a deeply moving, superb performance. Heroic Tenor Stuart Skelton with Phillip Thomas presented us with Gott, welch Dunkel hier! from Beethoven's Fidelio with a blend of subtlety and intensity. Elisabeth Meister with David Gowland brought the first half of the concert to a close with In questa reggia from Puccini's Turandot and a vibrant performance.

Img. of Kathryn Harries
Kathryn Harries

After so much intensity, the interval seemed most welcome indeed to help prepare for what would undoubtedly turn out to be more of the same and more.

It was therefore also most refreshing to have the second half of the concert open with the humour of Linnhe Robertson and Peter Robinson already mentioned excellent piano duet of Fauré / Messager's Souvenirs de Bayreuth, following a brief remembrance of Ms. Connell from Robinson. More humour followed with Yvonne Kenny with Linnhe Robertson's delightful performance of Gershwin's By Strauss. The humorous vein continued with the return of baritone David Wakeham with Mark Packwood delivering Tom Lehrer's She's my girl / I take your hand in mine in fine dead-pan style. A wonderful performance of Richard Strauss' Allerseelen by Christine Teare with Mark Packwood. Baritone Morgan Pearse with Eugene Asti gave a moving performance of Finzi's Fear no more the heat of the sun, in a wonderful, surprisingly dark and vibrant voice.

A wonderful performance of Ma quando tornerai from Handel's Alcina by Penny Randall-Davis with Richard Hetherington followed, in turn to be followed by Jeffrey Black with Eugene Asti's somewhat dramatic performance of Schubert's Ständchen. Tessa Uys gave a solo piano performance, Schubert's Impromptu in G flat D 899 with the post-Apartheid South African National Anthem, that excellent though it was seemed to go on perhaps just a tad too long. Tülay Uyar with Stephen Rose astounded with Tiger! Wetze nur die Klauen! from Mozart's unfinished opera Zaïde, and a mesmerising lyrical voice and convincing dramatic performance.

Img. of Jeffrey Black
Jeffrey Black
Img. of Morgan Pearse
Morgan Pearse
Img.of Julian Gavin
Julian Gavin
Img. of Stuart Skelton
Stuart Skelton
 


Img. of Sylvie Valayre
Sylvie Valayre
Img. of David Wakeham
David Wakeham

Tenor Julian Gavin with Linnhe Robertson followed with a fine performance of Massenet's Pensée d'automne. Next we were treated to the extraordinary Sally Silver with Eugene Asti and another Massenet, Ivre d'amour, rendered beautifully by Ms. Silver's clear, pure and powerful voice and her perfect diction. After this we were privileged to witness the return of Thomas Moser with Phillip Thomas and a fine performance of Ernest Charles' She walks in loveliness. The solo performances ended with Sally Silver with Tessa Uys' exquisite traditional South African Lullaby - Thula thula.

Img. of Thomas Moser
Thomas Moser

The Elizabeth Connell Memorial Concert at St. John's Smith Square concluded with all singers and Stephen Rose, piano, conducted by Peter Robinson and the Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate chorus from Verdi's Nabucco - an extraordinary, exquisite and powerful performance. The perfect way to end an unforgettable, magical night.


N.B. - As usual, a very big thank you to Rainlore's World Artist in Residence Alban Low for the use of his brilliant illustrations of the concert and all his hard work in preparing them. It is nothing short of a miracle that he captured 15 of the 17 singers in the short time each was on stage, and his pens must have been white hot! To find out more about Alban Low's work and to see more examples of his exquisite art and to get a catalogue of posters and prints, please visit his web site.


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Img. of Penelope Randall-Davis
Penelope Randall-Davis
Img. of Yvonne Kenny
Yvonne Kenny

 

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