That which had to be done is done. What follows is a write up from my notes of Sunday’s art song final. Please bear in mind that I was less than fully emotionally engaged and you may well prefer Gianmarco Segato’s thoughtful review.
Julien van Mellaerts sang first. He started off in conventional territory with Strauss, Schumann and Wolf; showing good command of the Lieder style, expressiveness and a willingness to vary dynamics. A pleasing version of Adams’ For You There is No Song was followed by the weird and somewhat chilling Genius Child by Owens; a neat contrast. The set concluded with Debussy’s Trois ballades de François Villon. There was some lovely, delicate singing here with some ravishing floating notes. Overall, as in the previous rounds, very good stuff without, perhaps, having the X factor.
So, the evening session in Bourgie Hall. Gemma Summerfield sang first, kicking off with two Mendelssohn songs. Die Liebende schreibt showed off proper Lieder singing. It was restrained and pure with every word distinct. Hexenlied was appropriately more dramatic but still quite correct with a good sense of story telling. A very good start. Ravel’s Cinq mélodies, which followed displayed excellent French in varied moods and some lovely piano playing from Sebastian Wybrew. There was more of the same from both of them with a lovely version of Korngold’s Drei Lieder before things wrapped up with stylish and entirely idiomatic versions of Bridge’s Go Not Happy Day and Love went a Riding. The latter was an object lesson in how to tell a story without going over the top. This was a very, very fine set and jumped Summerfield to the top of my provisional “leader board”.
So back to the Salle Bourgie for the second and final batch of art song contestants. First up was mezzo Hagar Sharvit. I liked her. It’s a genuine mezzo voice and if her Fauré and Schubert offerings were a bit “flow of beautiful tone” they displayed plenty of power and a nice ability to spin a line. Her version of Britten’s O Waly, Waly was rather good ; more dramatic and with perfect diction. A strong start.