'Chamber music is by friends, for friends' None truer than the admirable offerings from the Malvern Concert Club created by Sir Edward Elgar in 1903. Congratulations are very much in order as was the excited buzz for a capacity gathering for this landmark 500th concert. A most distinguished list of participants throughout the decades culminated in a recital by much-loved soprano Dame Felicity Lott with one of the world's leading vocal accompanists, Graham Johnson.
Dame Felicity (affectionately know as 'Flott') has a well deserved reputation for her love of and interpretation of Strauss songs, a selection here highlighting her superb control throughout, and clarity of text.
Beautifully centred arching phrases were offset by the lightest dusting of pianistic dreams from a delicate running accompaniment in Wiegenlied. The voice was never overwhelmed even in highly dramatic passages elsewhere, both artists always creating a perfect balance whether declamatory or gossamer fine.
Hugo Wolf's vast output has something for everyone, being conveyed with tenderness, humour, and gentleness. Here is a singer not afraid to connect with her audience, her repertoire covering aspects of spring, delicious declarations of love, descriptive nature - raising laughs and delight with her imaginative thought-provoking acting throughout: always expressive, never excessive.
A variety of Poulenc offerings eventually led to the relief of a nostalgic waltz scene. Very French, ending with a long and unbelievably high pianissimo single note. These were interspersed with quirky Samuel Barber, diverse offerings not only from America but also W.H.Auden and James Joyce.
One admires such a tour-de-force; holding an audience in thrall throughout the recital and finishing with rip-roaring observations from naughty Noel Coward, bringing the house down finally at this very special concert.