What a wonderful experience it was on Saturday 4th March. Such passionate playing. Thank you for arranging it.
Another mesmerising evening with superb playing of a standard that left me spellbound. Heavenly musicianship.
The Committee received many written and verbal comments in praise of the recital held in February on a very cold and snowy night. One audience member said to me it was the best and most exciting O&LMS concert he had been to in some years. Many thanks to all those who wrote in and below is just a small selection of them.
It is said that 'Hanna' means a gift from God. Hanna Hipp most certainly is! Her effortless vocal and acting presentation knows no bounds and her love of her country was so obvious in the sensitive way she sang the first half of the programme.
Poland has had a very sad history but as one song said "Victory will be ours". She portrayed this hope with such beauty and compassion in her singing.
Emma Abbate completed the excellence of this performance.
This was a superb recital, with both Hanna Hipp and her accompanist, Emma Abbate, on the top of their form. In the first half of the recital Hanna Hipp demonstrated the remarkable breadth of her vocal and emotional range.
Poulenc’s Huit Chansons Polonaises, sung in Hanna’s native Polish, was particularly memorable, while Ravel’s Quatres Chants Populaires and De Falla’s Siete Canciones Populares Españoles, very different in style, were hugely enjoyable.
The second half of the recital, devoted to operatic arias by Handel, Mozart and Gounod, showed off Hanna Hipp’s considerable stage presence as she stalked up and down the audience steps, giving individual attention to each person present.
The recital tested the Bawtree Hall acoustics to the utmost and, while some in the audience may still regret the move from the Centenary Theatre, there is wide agreement that the acoustic of the new venue is infinitely better and the wider stage area gives far greater scope for performers and audience alike.
Hanna Hipp showed why she is in such demand to wow audiences both in personality and sheer musicianship. Bryn Terfel will need to be on his mettle when she joins him as Magdalena, Eva's nurse, in Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in March.
I think I speak for everyone that Saturday's concert by Hanna Hipp and Emma Abbate in the dramatic new Bawtree Hall was one of the best O&LMS events ever. Thank you so much O&LMS.
The new Bawtree Hall at Hazelwood School in Limpsfield revealed a clear acoustic more perfect for chamber and solo performance than any similarly sized venue in London or the South East. The rapier-sharp acoustic gave the feeling that Mishka Rushdie Momen and Chiara Enderle were playing solely for each individual listener. They performed a balanced and ambitious programme with verve and perfection.
This was a remarkably sparkling programme. If Mishka Momen had played purely with technical perfection we would have gone home impressed and satisfied, but she also gave us such a compass of interpretation and subtleties that we were engaged 100% in the musical messages.
Chiara Enderle played from her feeling for the music so directly to the audience it was almost as if her hands, bow and cello were irrelevant.
Their virtuosity shone through when playing as equal partners in the pieces for two instruments as well as in the solo repertoire.
SOME AUDIENCE COMMENTS
It was a huge privilege to be present, witnessing Stephen Hough's extraordinary gift to us. We entered into the world of this brilliant polymath, seemingly from another planet, in a superbly balanced programme. Although the central piece had to be the César Franck, it was truly exciting to be taken out of (most of) our comfort zones in Stephen's own magnificent 12-note Sonata 3 (Trinitas), encouraging a greater attempt to the understanding of the dodecaphonic scale. In it, the exquisitely harmonised chorale tune of 'Nicaea' shone through intermittently, giving us a glimpse of the inner faith and sacrifice of this giant of the piano, destined at one time for the priesthood. Enormous thanks to him, and once again thank you to the O&LMS Committee for bringing him to Limpsfield.
I couldn't let the occasion go by without saying what a coup it was to have the world-class Stephen Hough give a concert locally. His sumptuous, thoughtful playing was a delight. I hope he was fully aware of the appreciation we felt for him.
What a fantastic opening concert for the season. Stephen Hough’s performance was amazing, and it was lovely to hear him play after listening to him recently on Desert Island Discs. I was completely mesmerized throughout the concert.
This recital to mark the start of The Great War in 1914 was a truly auspicious event.
Roderick Williams is a well-known name in recital, concert and opera circles nationally and internationally and, after his forthcoming appearance at the Last Night of the Proms, he will be much more widely known amongst the general public as well. Whilst this recital had no resemblance to that coming event, the performance that he and Gary Matthewman delivered on 1st August was of extreme brilliance.
Roderick is a lyric baritone with a beautiful vocal instrument, secure in pitch and legato. It is totally apt for his superb interpretive gifts which, on this occasion, were laid at the feet of English Song and the majority of the programme encompassed that extraordinary generation of composers and poets who had the misfortune to be born in the final two decades of the 19th Century and therefore served in the First World War.
The coalescing of poetry and music gave birth to the enormous riches known as English Song which has been largely neglected in the concert halls of the world, but now familiar to all young English-speaking singers. So Roderick Williams had riches indeed to explore and he chose a wide-ranging repertoire starting with 'Six songs from A Shropshire Lad' composed by George Butterworth; possibly the greatest loss to English music amongst many other losses. The programme brought together songs by other familiar composers such as Arthur Somervell, Edward Elgar, Ivor Gurney, Gerald Finzi, Martin Shaw, John Ireland, Charles Ives, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Anthony Payne, as well as songs by some relatively unfamiliar names.
The two artists conducted the “exploration” expertly. Roderick articulated the texts to perfection, drawing upon the wide range of colours in his voice and creating the feeling that he was singing, as it were, to each of us personally. It was an absolutely magnificent demonstration of the art of song delivered by an artist at the height of his powers and glorying in his ability to touch every emotion during two hours of sustained mastery. It was a truly a stupendous performance, the like of which it was a privilege to witness. We must hope that both Roderick Williams and Gary Matthewman can be persuaded to perform for us again.
SOME AUDIENCE COMMENTS:
I am still thinking about the moving performance of Friday evening's tour de force. I had to swallow very hard during Butterworth’s setting of A.E. Housman's ‘Is my team ploughing?’ This was a very fitting remembrance concert, which everyone I spoke to was glad to have attended.
I was enthralled by the whole recital, but the songs which really moved me were ‘Channel Firing', in the first half and ‘Pain’ in the second half. 'Channel Firing' had not just wonderfully emotive singing, but also a beautifully played piano accompaniment which evoked so vividly the threatening thunder of the guns. The whole of ‘Pain' – the singing, music and words – moved me immensely, as did the final song, ‘Only a man harrowing clods’. Roderick Williams transfixed me, not just with his voice but with his stage presence and his penetrating eyes.
The choice of songs, the incredibly moving vocal interpretation and a most accomplished accompanist created a truly memorable evening. Roderick Williams has a beautiful clarity of diction so the audience could hang on to every word. Gary Matthewman’s wonderful accompaniment especially in ‘Adlestrop’, the Edward Thomas poem, was so atmospheric that one could have heard a pin drop. The rapt attention of the whole audience led to those wonderful few moments of stillness at the end of the recital when, lost in the moment, the audience remained silent before the rapturous applause began.