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Wendy Dawn Thompson / Aoife O'Sullivan
Wigmore Hall
14 March 2006


Schubert: Ganymed; Erster Verlust; Nacht und Traume; Die Forelle

Schumann: Widmung; Marienwurmchen; Die Soldatenbraut; Meine Rose

Duparc; Chanson triste; Au pays ou se fair la guerre; Testament

Britten: Early one morning; How sweet the answer; Tis the last rose of summer

Bridge: Love went a-riding


New Zealander Wendy Dawn Thompson looked confident as she stepped out onto the Wigmore Stage for her YCAT date, and well might she do so, as she has a string of competition triumphs to her name – Ferrier winner in 2003, and finalist last year at both the Rosenblatt Song Recital Prize and the Singer of the World competitions in Cardiff, with worldwide BBC TV coverage (pictured).


Not only has she a mezzo voice that is technically superb and very flexible, but also she has a flare for communication and her sense of comic timing is spot on.


Today however she was in more sombre mood, dressed in black, and with a programme heavy on love, languish and roses – Schumann's Widmung being the high point in this genre, delivered with great depth of feeling.


There were lighter moments, Schubert's rainbow hued Die Forelle and Schumann's Ladybird and Soldier's sweetheart , but none quite enough to lift the spirits on an unseasonably cold March day.


The pianist for this recital (with possibly YCAT's “Young Concert Artists Trust” policy being a deciding factor in favour of the relatively inexperienced Aoife O'Sullivan), was not announced until a relatively late date – too late perhaps for a firm bond to be established between the pair.


Just towards the end, with Britten's (unjustly neglected) settings of the Irish poems of Thomas Moore the partnership gelled, and Early One Morning and The last rose of summer came over with a lilting and attractive freshness.


They offered no encore, but Bridge's Love went a-riding , with it's long, soaring phrases was as good a way to end as any.

© Serena Fenwick


The Editor adds:

Wendy Dawn Thompson's singing gave me great pleasure in this mismatched recital, an old fashioned singer and accompanist event, with a pianist who had her work cut out to get through the scores, her congested tone not helped by having the lid down on a short stick.


But Wendy Dawn remained poised and delivered songs in German, French and English with perfect breath control and volume perfectly adapted to the intimacy of the Wigmore Hall, with her manner of presentation relaxed and natural. I thought her black dress attractive (without any sombre connotation) and suitable for a lunchtime concert - one sometimes feels women musicians are handicapped by the conventions of concert evening dress which may go against their real personalities.

So, by identifying with the singer more than one usually does in a song recital at Wigmore Hall, my spirits remained high throughout, cold outside or not, and the journey across London for only about fifty minutes singing – no encore, unaccountably – was well worth while. I look forward to hearing Wendy Dawn Thompson soon in a full length recital, with one of London 's top song-pianists who would surely help her to raise her game. PGW