Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us


Rosenblatt Recital Series - St John's Smith Square
6 December 2005

Mozart Un aura amorosa (Cosi fan tutte) ; Se' all impero (La Clemenza di Tito); Dalla sua pace (Don Giovanni)

Donizetti Quanto e bella; Una furtiva lagrima (L'elisir d'amore)

Brahms Acht lieder und gesänge op 57
Britten 7 Sonnets of Michelangelo
Handel Where e'er you walk (Semele); Waft her angels (Jeptha); Look down harmonious saint The Praise of Harmony HWV 124 Tchaikowsky Lensky's aria (
Eugene Onegin)
Stravinsky Tom Rakewell's aria (The Rake's Progress)  


At this time of year, with the tentacles of a commercial Christmas closing around us, it is a relief to visit the ageless calm of St John's , set in the sepulchral gloom of Smith Square . A varied and thoughtful programme had been prepared by the tenor Andrew Kennedy and his pianist Simon Crawford-Phillips. It commenced with some Mozart arias which were disposed of rather hurriedly, like a famished guest at dinner anxious to reach the main course. The voice warmed up considerably in the Donizetti items, in time to give the Brahms lieder the affectionate flavouring that the texts demand. The lyrical moments were highlighted and the passions eventually subsided into the calm melodies of Unbewegte laue Lufte .


After the interval we were treated to a truly exceptional rendition of Britten's Michelangelo Sonnets in which the singer displayed his remarkable talent for scene painting. The music transported us to a sultry afternoon in Renaissance Rome, with the bustle of men and horses, the clash of armour and swords, the passage of a cardinal's retinue, and the sound of church bells. Above it all came the sound of the lover's voice, aching with impatience for the night when the sun sets, crimson over the Pines of the Pincio. This sequence was a revelation and proof, if any were needed, of this tenor's supreme musical intelligence, already recognised by the award of the Singer of the World Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize this year. He then demonstrated his fine declamatory style in a batch of Handel pieces, although failing to insert decorations where I felt they were implied in the music.


In another change of scene and style, the recital continued with Lensky's duel aria frrom Eugene Onegin . The music is full of regret and melancholy, lamenting his lost hopes of happiness. The singer invested his tone with a certain plaintive urgency which very effectively conveyed the desperation of the young poet, as he awaited the arrival of his opponent, in the bleak snowbound woodlands. As a finale, we encountered another young man, of a rather different character Tome Rakewell in The Rake's Progress . A very contemporary conceit !


This recital was the 5 th in the invaluable Rosenblatt series and the varied talents of Andrew Kennedy provided a suitably enjoyable way of celebrating the occasion. The capacity audience was most appreciative and no doubt look forward to his appearances at the Coliseum and Covent Garden next year. In addition to the operatic stage, his concerts will include works by Finzi, Elgar and Britten, demonstrating his affinity with English composers. An artist now very much in demand, it seems likely that Andrew Kennedy will join that select band of British singers whose names are familiar throughout the musical world.


S Jenkins


© Peter Grahame Woolf