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Schubert Schwanengesang 10 November 2011

Britten & Purcell 19 March 2013

James Gilchrist & Julius Drake at Temple Song

This was a particularly notable event because of James Gilchrist's uncommon ability to evince his enjoyment of singing to a public. His way of communication lets everyone feel, momentarily, that you are with him there and he is singing to you!

At the opposite extreme in this series Wolfgang Holzmair "faced straight forward, sometimes inclining to the right; never so much as glance towards the audience at the east end of the Hall...". [Those aspects of performing were discussed in a Greenwich master class recently, and afterwards demonstrated in recital].

Gilchrist's tenor per se is not, to my ear, particularly beautiful, and so the dramatic aspects are that bit more important. The collaboration with Julius Drake, the regular pianist in this series, was rewarding as always.

Together, they took the varied songs of Schwanengesang to a height that is, regrettably, absent from Gilchrist's more intimate CD, with pianist Anna Tilbrook [Orchid ORC100013].

I look forward greatly to hearing James Gilchrist in recital again, and wonder if there is any possibility of him making available on DVD or YouTube a live performance of Schwanengesang ?*

Photography is discouraged at Middle Temple Hall; my image of the magnificent venue is from the Gallery before it began to fill completely.

Peter Grahame Woolf

*There is indeed one on YouTube !

See also Gilchrist at Blackheath

Purcell/Britten, Britten & Schubert

James Gilchrist's return to The Temple, to celebrate Britten's centenary, was a recital to divide opinions, and mine was unexpectedly reserved. His voice and manner of delivery are as individual as was that of Peter Pears**.

Gilchrist dramatised every phrase of every song, from Britten's Job's Curse (appropriately), right through the evening, and with volume level that seemed to be aiming to the further reaches of an auditorium even larger than Middle Temple Hall...

It all came to feel exaggerated, towards "over the top", in contrast with his video of Schwanengesang, which is available on YouTube.

Doing so in two major Britten cycles (the Michelangelo Sonnets and John Donne's) soon became wearing to this listener. Recording his interpretations as now developed would demand a DVD rather than CD; a sound recording would emphasise the increasing "roughness" of his voice.

Peter Grahame woolf

**Pears' wasn't the most beautiful of voices: it was nasal, slightly prissy, desperately English, and of its time - - it lends itself to parody (in the 60s Peter Cook was doing riotously funny Pears impersonations) - - it's also a voice that demands you listen beyond the flaws and odd misjudgments [Telegraph]