Saturday, 25 September 2021

Passion, sorrow and joy — all in the intimacy of a drawing room

Passion, sorrow and joy — all in the intimacy of a drawing room

Love, Melody, Spain — an evening recital with Opera Prelude, Fawley | Friday, April 29

FRIDAY evening’s gem of a performance recreated the ambience of a 19th century soirée in the intimacy of an elegant private drawing room.

A small gathering enjoyed a journey through some of Brahms and Schumann’s best loved lieder at the home of Opera Prelude in Fawley.

Mezzo-soprano Anna Harvey was accompanied by Mark Austin on a piano dating from the time of Schumann.

The recital began with Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben — the charming depiction of a woman’s life and love for a man from their first meeting to courtship, marriage, and finally bereavement.

Harvey immediately engaged with her audience, her captivating facial expressions bringing the music to life.

She showed remarkable poise and control, understanding the acoustic demands of the intimate space.

From the first moments, Austin’s perfectly sensitive accompaniment created a magic that had us on the edges of our chairs.

Brahms’s wonderfully profound settings included his Geheimnis, Wie Melodien zieht es Mir and Spanisches Lied.

But it was in the Manuel de Falla Siete Canones Populares Espanolas that we had some of the very best performances of the evening.

The seven contrasting songs depicting the vivid character and landscapes of Spain were well suited to these young artists.

In tales of passion, sorrow and joy, Harvey’s voice took on the proud spirit of the Spanish, Austin managing the complex rhythms in the piano with great dexterity.

Both artists were impressive, being equally as accomplished in the lyricism of Schumann as in the
toe-tapping dance rhythms of the de Falla.

Opera Prelude artist Anna Harvey is currently completing her debut season at the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar. She returns in May to the UK as associate artist with the Welsh National Opera.

A versatile musician, Mark Austin combines a busy career as pianist and conductor of his Faust Chamber Orchestra, and regularly delivers lectures for Opera Prelude.

This excellent charity supports professional development for opera singers at the start of their careers.

A series of summer recitals and lectures is planned at London’s Cadogan Hall and in Henley.

Look out for an evening recital of duets featuring Opera Prelude artists on Friday, May 19, in Fawley.

For more information, visit

Mandy Beard

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