Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared, Nicky Spence & Simon Lepper

February 22, 2020 by

 

A trip to the Royal Welsh is always well worth the venture in the wind and rain. With a few recent trips under my belt recently, a fine recital of both professional and student singers proved to be a stand out afternoon.

Starting off, a fine quartet of student singers: Annie George, Charlotte Forfar, Verity Belle Atkinson and Molly Beere, gave an impressive set of folk songs from both England and Wales. I’m ashamed to say I only reconsigned Britten’s arrangement of ‘Down by the Sally Garden’, an evocative affair with a simple necessity in delivery and emotion. The other three songs were a delectable display of cheer and wit. These female singers are on to great careers, this much I know.

I’m always excited to hear Janáček live. Tenor Nicky Spence, pictured above,  and pianist Simon Lepper displayed The Diary of One Who Disappeared with true artistry. These mysterious songs of love and drinking, with the whispy forest evocations (no one display the forest so brilliantly like Janáček) also feature. The vocal line is broad and can be over wrought, a strange feature from the Czech composer. Spence gave a fulfilling performance of the work, with acting, movement and gesticulation. His tenor is soft, grounded with a fine tone. How much of the Czech provocation was of a good quality is unknown to me, though I can imagine it being quite hard to sing (Spence is a big Janáček advocate).

I’ll be honest and express that Janáček wrote better for an orchestra then piano. Lepper is a marvel to watch though, with rampant playing, fiendish fingering and all round sense of excitement for the music. The folk elements are never far and the mood is either sombre or rambunctious. How lovely for the student singers to return as a trio in on the balcony and a fine solo from Atkinson, some more stunning vocals and atmospheres. Her autumnal dress was also a fitting touch.

A final Czech drinking song was our encore, a brief affair and having a great vocal leap in the middle. Grand stuff.

Photo Credit: Whats On Stage Website

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