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The Friends of the RAM - Wigmore Award 2009

Angela Bic
– soprano with Robin Davis - piano

Brahms: Vier ernste Gesange Op121

Rachmaninov: Dreams Op38 No5

Wagner: Traume, Wesendonck Lieder No5

Grieg: Ein Traum Op48 No6

Stefan Ciric – piano

Chopin: Nocturne Op27 No2 in D flat; Scherzo Op39 in C sharp minor

Ravel: La Valse


Ksenija Siderova – accordion

J S Bach: Overture in the French Style BWV831 (First movement)

Nordheim: Flashing

Schnittke: Revis Fairy Tale



 Wigmore Hall 18 May 2009


The programme notes give no clue how the Friends of the Royal Academy of Music select the students to take part in their Award Concert at the Wigmore Hall, but their choice certainly reflected the diversity of talent and disciplines to be found within the college.


Angela Bic and Robin Davis have already been “blooded” on this concert platform, and as winners of the Ferrier Song and Accompanists’ Prizes, respectively, came to the concert with established credentials.  In the first part of the recital they chose Brahms’ Four Serious Songs, which with their scriptural texts fully live up to their title, devoid of tunes and elegance to seduce an audience.  But the timbre of Bic’s voice is well suited to this repertoire, she didn’t over sentimentalise, floated the repeated “tod”s in the third song very eloquently, and conveyed the window of optimism that opens up with the quotation from Corinthians in the final song. 


After the interval they presented a trio of dreams, in settings by Rachmaninov, Wagner and Grieg.  The last of these was particularly successful, giving clear demonstration of the skills of both singer and accompanist.


The concert had opened with the Yugoslavian pianist, Stefan Ciric playing Chopin.  Having been brought up on the recordings of Cortot and Perlmuter, I found Ciric’s interpretation a trifle solid, but when he returned to the platform at the end of the concert with Ravel’s La Valse I was completely swept away by his hypnotic account, revealing the dark side of this obsessive work as the tempo finally self-destructs into 4/4 time.


In the middle of this musical sandwich was the accordionist Ksenija Sidorova.  I don’t recall ever having seen an accordion on the Wigmore Hall platform, but this all too brief appearance certainly made a convincing case for more.   Sidorova’s first offering was an arrangement of a Bach Overture in the French Style – curious sounding on this instrument, but always recognisably Bach and slightly tilting its cap towards the accordion of the French café. 


Nordheim’s Flashing, written for the accordion, really exploits the possibilities of the instrument with sounds that range from ethereal to guttural, and long sustained notes interrupted by bird like chirruping.    Schnittke’s Fairy Tale was equally stunning – whirling us through a series of character sketches and unfolding the tale with considerable humour.  All three pieces were played by Sidorova with enormous charm and aplomb – truly a musician who deserved the accolade of this award concert.


Serena Fenwick