Lawrence Brownlee recital at Wigmore Hall
The human voice can be awesome and natural talent is a thing of wonder; when voices are trained, the result is a force of nature. There is something about the male Tenor voice that has long inspired adulation, appealing widely beyond an opera or classical music audience, as evidenced by Caruso and Pavarotti.
Opera singers know how to make their voices fill large auditoriums, and so filling the smaller Wigmore Hall was a breeze. Browlee’s singing was never over strained, even at the top notes of his register, nor did he indulge in showing off with over-long held notes. Instead, the music came first, and the result was an absolutely assured and controlled rendition, full of passion and nuance. The Rossini works were especially technically impressive and had the audience standing in appreciation by the end. Lawrence Brownlee quite simply has a beautiful voice, and his choice of programme was a treat of Italian and French repertoire from Verdi, Rossini and Poulenc. Often wistful, full of memory and longing, the choice of songs was well-balanced for an enjoyable evening, including the obligatory rousing toasting song expected of Tenors.
Ben Moore is a lesser-known contemporary American composer championed by Brownlee. His setting of poems by Yeats and Joyce were spare and moving. An American himself, Brownlee treated the audience, after enthusiastic applause, to an encore of the Negro Spiritual, Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.
Brownlee is a charismatic and endearing performer and was accompanied on the piano by Iain Burnside. A voice and a piano – what more do you need?
Wigmore Hall is a beautiful and sympathetic space for recitals, the sound alive to all areas of the audience, even to The Upcoming who were squeezed in to the back corner of the packed hall. Built in 1901 to showcase pianos, it has long been London’s musical gem, hosting international soloists and small ensembles in intimate, unamplified acoustics. Over the stage is a golden, elegant Art Nouveau frieze to stare at while your mind wanders and lingers with the music. It’s the sort of place where you get a distinct whiff of Chanel, although the audience don’t quite rattle their jewellery.
This concert makes you want to hear Brownlee sing other great works in the Tenor repertoire, and to see him on stage in full opera flow, and it begins to make sense as to why opera singers have such a passionate following. The Rosenblatt Recitals series hosted by Wigmore features several more opera singers over the next few months. It’s a real opportunity to glimpse a touch of magic.
Photos: Will White
The Rosenblatt Recitals continue at the Wigmore Hall until June 2013. For more information, click here.