Iestyn Davies / Richard Egarr - Wigmore Hall, 12 January 2011
More pics here.
Ferrari Voglio di vita uscir Kapsberger Figlio dormi Frescobaldi Toccata Settima from Il secondo libro (solo harpsichord), Se l’aura spira Ferrari Queste pungenti spine Frescobaldi Capriccio sopra Ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la (solo harpsichord) Cesti Selino’s Lament from Argia Merula Canzonetta spirituale sopra alla nonna Porpora Oh se fosse il mio core Handel Suite No. 3 in D minor HWV428 (solo harpsichord) Vivaldi Pianti, sospiri e dimandar mercede
Encores - Handel Furibondo spira il vento from Partenope Trad. She Moved Through the Fair
Was the photo taken before, during or after? The champagne flowed freely on Thursday night as Wigmore Hall's director John Gilhooly celebrated his 10th anniversary together with a very Wigmore set of guests. Amongst the pearls, mayoral chains and dog collars lurked TRH The Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra, Lady Antonia Fraser, Ian McEwan and Sam West.
This was no gala event though but serious music-making at the very highest level. After a succession of musical disappointments in the last few weeks, most of which I've walked out of half way, it was a joy to return to the Wigmore for an evening so perfectly constructed and executed.
A free glass for everyone at the interval may have factored into the noticeably warmer applause of the second half. Perhaps Iestyn enjoyed a drop too. It was hard to tell. He never appears to suffer from the on-stage awkwardness that bothers so many singers. Whatever the repertoire, he performs with absolute security of voice and a confidence bordering on rock star swagger.
For the first half, he dusted off a handful of hauntingly beautiful obscurities from the backwaters of the early baroque. Hunched behind a music stand, he radiated intense concentration. The musing, improvisatory quality the songs needed to bring them alive was enhanced by the minimal but perfectly judged harpsichord accompaniment Richard Egarr sprinkled behind him.
Should a singer bother to commit to memory obscure repertoire performed just once? I think these underexposed gems are worth it, and Iestyn's light and supple countertenor makes a compelling advocate. As the career of Jordi Savall evidences, if you do something well enough, the audience will come.
When he returned after the interval, the music stand was gone and the communication straight away more extrovert and immediate. We'd moved forward a century for a couple of surging, richly-ornamented Porpora and Vivaldi cantatas which showcased Iestyn's florid coloratura and Egarr's nimble fingers in a performance so exhilarating it earned football-style roars on top of thunderous applause.
For his final trick, he covered a song even better than Boyzone. The Irish (in John Gilhooly's honour) folk song She Moved Through the Fair made a simple and lovely end to a memorable evening.