Young American tenor Paul Appleby has been delighting audiences in the current COC production of Così fan tutte where he sings Ferrando. Today he got to show us what he could do as a lieder singer in a lunchtime concert in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. He started off with a stylish, if occasionally tentative, set of five Schubert songs. It was a promising start with some very stylish and controlled singing and unhistrionic acting with the voice. Hitting his stride, he gave us seven songs from Schumann’s Myrten cycle. These covered a wide range of moods from tender passion to drunken ecstasy. Again great skill and artistry and lovely accompaniment from Anne Larlee at the piano.
The highlights of the short programme for me were three songs from Simple Daylight by John Harbison setting texts by Michael Fried. Your Name was a challenging piece confidently delivered. Somewhere a Seed was a blistering, angry piece with a ferociously athletic piano part. Tremendous intensity here from both performers and a real display of controlled power by Appleby. This set finished up with the slightly sinister and thought provoking Odor.
Two songs from Shadow of the Blues (texts: Langston Hughes) by John Musto were pleasant but perhaps anticlimactic. The same could not be said of the encore. A chestnut to be sure but we got Dein ist mein ganzes Herz belted out in fine romantic tenor style. Appleby has a beautiful voice, more oomph than one might guess from hearing him sing Mozart and a real sense of style. Definitely one to watch.