REVIEW: 4* Temple Song with Iestyn Davies

Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill

A remarkable voice in a remarkable song cycleA counter-tenor voice singing Schubert lieder is still a relatively unusual phenomenon, so there was great interest in Iestyn Davies‘ Temple Songrecital at Middle Temple Hall on 10 July 2017 when accompanied by pianist Julius Drake, the counter-tenor sang Schubert’s first great song-cycle Die schöne Müllerin. Having a high voice in this cycle makes a lot of sense as it brings out the youthful qualities of the young hero, though even female recordings of the cycle are relatively rare with notable ones by Lotte Lehmann (1942), Brigitte Fassbaender (1993) and Barbara Hendricks (2003).

Iestyn Davies is known for his espousal of both the Baroque and the contemporary repertoire, and seeing how he brought his intelligent approach and elegant tone to bear on Schubert was always going to be interesting and illuminating. He used music, but merely as an aide memoire and this was a highly communicative performance with the relative intimacy of Middle Temple Hall helping.

Text is, of course, important in Schubert and whilst Davies sang more lyrically on the voice than some singers, his projection of the text was excellent. This cycle had a constant feel of being about the text and the narrative. There was more of a sense of Davies relating a story to us, rather than being a dramatic narrative with the singer as protagonist.

Read the rest of the review here

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