Julianne de Villiers

MICHAEL DRAKE Holkham Hall.

MICHAEL DRAKE

Indelible vocal communication and the most sensitive accompaniment were the outstanding features as Kathleen Ferrier 2002 Song Prizewinner Julianne de Villiers and award-winning pianist Caroline Jaya-Ratnam brought the SPANN (Society for Promoting Arts in North Norfolk) promoted Spring Series of concerts to a close.

Although bodily animation was limited, attention was fixed by the mezzo soprano's pure tone and immaculate placing of each note as songs from around Europe were delivered in an almost detached manner. But that did not detract from the impressively lyrical opening to the first of a set of Brahms' songs, Dein Blaues Auge, which then gave way to those of Henri Duparc – Chanson Triste being sung with just as much care and with a full helping of poignancy in preceding majestic sensuality given to La Vie Anterieure.

Miss de Villiers, not unnaturally because of her upbringing in South Africa, showed great empathy for a trio of Hofmeyr's songs contrasting with a lyric calmness (a feature of the evening thus far) in Exotic Songs by the Swede von Koch.

Finally, some of Britten's “Cabaret Songs” – O Waly, Waly, a wonderfully picturesque story superbly phrased, being the pick of half a dozen given a vocal vivacity. An encore, of course and, wait for it, Carmen and a glimpse of a vocal alter-ego, flashing eyes and all. Ole!

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