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


Kate Royal - soprano Christine Rice – mezzo soprano
Roger Vignoles – piano

Let us wander not unseen; Lost is my quiet forever; What can we poor females do? Sound the Trumpet

Mendelssohn: Abschiedslied der Zugvogel Op 63 No 2; Volkslied Op 63 No 5; Gruss Op63 No 3; Herbstlied Op 63 No 4

Gounod: D'un coeur qui t'aime; Fleur des bois

Chausson: La nuit Op 11 No 1; La reveil Op 11 No 2

Brahms:- Die Schwestern Op 61 No 1; Sommerabend Op 84 No 1; Weg der Liebe I Op 20 No 1; Weg der Liebe II Op 20 No 2; Phanomen Op 61 No 3; Walpurgisnacht Op 75 No 4; Die Meere Op 20 No 3 (encore)

PROMS Chamber Music at Cadogan Hall 24 July 2006


Anyone who came to this concert with the preconceived notion that duets are a rather demure entertainment suited to the prim atmosphere of a Victorian salon would have had that myth dispelled immediately. This was serious music making, requiring enormous concentration and accuracy from the performers - they refer to “bless'd pair of sirens” and believe it!


Duet recitals are rarities, for a start the repertoire is limited – it took all the skill of Roger Vignoles to put this one together. Then there is the need for a mutual interpretation from the singers – by all accounts Kate Royal and Christine Rice are friends who share a similar approach and enjoy singing together.


They began with the baroque grandeur of Purcell and a bright extract from The Indian Queen, but swiftly moved on to the much greater complexity of Lost is my quiet with its softly repeating “forever”s. Then a quick change of mood to the satirical What can we poor females do? and closed the group with the very showy Sound the Trumpet where the voices do just that!


Next came Mendelssohn, deliberately confining himself to a level that would be fall inside the capabilities of domestic performance, but producing masterpieces no less. I particularly liked the fourth piece Autumn Song where the piano part seemed to illustrate the gentle falling of leaves.


The French composers Gounod and Chausson provided the emotional heart of the programme – with a small diversion into the rather silly and almost Offenbach world of Fleurs des bois.


Finally Brahms, the composer who really lifted the technical demands of the duet from amateur to professional, and was well represented by a group of 7 songs. These included the archly coy sisterly partnership of Die Schwestern and the mother and daughter repartees in Sommerabend and the sinister Walpurgisnacht.


All these were performed with considerable artistry and a real sense of camaraderie – two young singers in peak form whose voices blend mellifluously, but in an hour long recital I would have liked a few solos to provide a change of focus and allow each singer to show her own individual merits. They have both embarked on what look set to be significant careers on the operatic stage, but this duet partnership is a new venture, and it could well be an enduring one.


Serena Fenwick


There will be a repeat broadcast on Radio 3 at 12 noon on Saturday 29 July – why not listen and judge for yourself – your comments will be welcome?