Updated: Jan 14, 2021
Following the AGM the afternoon Schubert lieder recital took place in the Lecture Recital Room of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in Silk Street. Harriet Burns (soprano) and Michael Pandya (piano) were the artists advertised but due to the indisposition of the singer she was replaced by Jess Dandy (contralto) and their program, devised by Michael, had to be changed.
Jess talked about and performed songs with shared characteristics in groups of three beginning with Ganymed D.544, Die Junge Nonne D.828 and Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt D.877/4. Each song was in one sense about the craving for an ideal higher world; in the case of the young nun fulfilled by self-inflicted suffering in order to find happiness. The next group of songs celebrating spring, Am Bach im Frühling D.361, Frühlingsglaube D.686 and Frühlingssehnsucht D.957/3, returned us to the natural world. They explored the conflict between the loveliness of spring and the inner turmoil which can't be reconciled. These were followed by some more light-hearted themes: An mein Klavier D.342, Die Forelle D.550 and Liebhaber in allen Gestalten D.558. Interestingly, in the latter, Jess included the verse beginning ‘Wär' ich gut wie ein Schaf…’ as in The Hyperion Schubert Edition, one more verse than in Peters Edition.
To end their recital, aiming for the sublime, the artists performed Auflösung D.807 and Nachtstück D.672. Before the very last song, Im Abendrot D.799, Jess read a poem by the Cumbrian poet Howard Nicholson expressing a similar mood as in that song. The young up-and-coming artists, who already have achieved remarkable success, displayed their great skills convincingly. Jess communicated very well with the audience, using the appropriate facial expression with only a minimum of gestures, but above all by using the capabilities of her magnificent voice. Michael's intelligent choice of songs and fluent playing contributed in equal measure to a very satisfying musical experience.