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KEITH BRAMICH listens to soprano Anya Szreter
in London's Regent Hall


Behind the façade of London's busy Oxford Street is the venue for the annual Regent Hall Summer Festival (this year 6-18 August 2001), and a well-attended 17 August lunchtime recital by young British soprano Anya Szreter.

The concert began with Seven Classical Spanish Songs by Fernando Obradors (1897-1945), a former conductor of the Gran Canaria Symphony Orchestra. These miniature songs, based on traditional folk tunes, portray various impressions of love, spotlighting Ms Szreter's powerful, at times almost musky low register, a good command of Spanish and a natural stage presence. Pianist Malcolm Miller provided spirited and sensitive support.

Switching to German, Ms Szreter built a climax on the word 'Adelaide!' in Beethoven's early and dramatic song with this name, and we then heard Liszt's Die drei Zigeuner (The Three Gypsies) of 1860, to a text by Nikolaus Lenau -- a tale with a rather sombre ending.

Three poems by Tristan Klingsor form the basis of Ravel's song cycle Shéhérazade (1903). Despite a less than perfect French diction, I found Ms Szreter's performance of the first of these, 'Asie' (Asia), particularly moving -- a long, slow, descriptive and dramatic longing for the excitement of the East ... 'I would like to see paupers and Queens ... roses and blood ... people dying of love or else of hatred, And then to return later on to relate my adventure to connoiseurs of dreams ...'

Anya Szreter ended the published part of her recital with the sounds and atmosphere of Brazil -- the Bachianas Brasileiras No 5 by Villa-Lobos -- originally for soprano and eight cellos. When we called her back for more, she concluded a varied and entertaining performance (with yet another change of language), dressed in light purple, leaning against the piano, singing This is my lovely day.

Copyright © 20 August 2001 Keith Bramich, London, UK





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