Singer's seamless transition

Emma Kirkby @ St Michael's Church, Beccles

Emma Kirkby @ St Michael's Church, Beccles


Over it's 21 years, Emma Kirkby has become one of Wingfield Arts favourite artistes, her latest visit last evening confirming (as if it were really necessary) not only her popularity – the church was full to capacity – but that she always gives an outstanding performance.

Accompanied by the delightfully titled Romantic Chamber Group of London, Emma Kirkby's programme in a concert sponsored by the town's octogenarian Taylor Electrical contained a fascinating mix of folk songs.

A far cry from the early music on which her reputation had been built, but a move which she has made with ease, displaying that beautifully delicate musical storytelling so widely revered.

The emotional poignancy of the Spirit's Song contrasted with the jovial Song of Venice and, although not much more than Haydn frippery, were remarkable for the immaculate vocal control.

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The same was true of Beethoven's Steps into the Genre, but the centrepieces were early 20th century songs by Amy Beach, of which Ich Sagte Nicht and Je Demande a L'oiseau were love songs sung with love.

James Lisney's piano accompaniment was totally complementary and, joined by Paul Barritt (violin) and Charles Medlam (cello), made a splendid serioso portrayal of Beethoven's “Mr Cockatoo the Tailor” variations, light and deftly enough performed for a summer's evening.

More romanticism came in Sharwenka's piano trio before Emma Kirkby entranced in another Amy Beach song, A Mirage.

She has made a seamless transition into 20th century song, and it will be an exciting progression provided she does not make it too precious.