An evening recital at Westminster Music Library was never going to be an ordinary affair. Over the years we’ve hosted a variety of ensembles and performers, but this was to be our first concert for the lute, but not just the lute: two sopranos and a pianist joined the musical ranks last Thursday evening.
Soprano Ai Sakabayashi accompanied by lutenist Wezi Elliot opened the concert with some baroque masterpieces from J.S. Bach, including three arias from Anna Magdalena Bach’s Notebook. After studying at the Kyoto University of Arts in Japan and the Royal College of Music, Ai gave her debut recital in Japan in 2013 and has performed a wide range of repertoire from baroque to contemporary. Ai’s voice, sweetly expressive, was perfectly matched with Wezi’s delicate and thoughtful lute playing. After a cantata by Heinrich Schutz – O Jesu, nomen dulce, they finished their set with some music by Purcell – Musick for a while from the incidental music to Oedipus, and finally Purcell’s setting of Bishop William Fuller’s Evening Hymn, a contemplative meditation.
After a short break and a “performer” changeover, soprano Jessie Tse and pianist Jiyeon Kim took centre stage.
Jessie is a former member of the Opera Hong Kong Chorus and has performed in concerts and fully-staged operas including Manon, La Bohème, L’elisir d’amore, Lucia di Lammermoor and Carmen.
After opening with some more Purcell – Hark! the echoing air, from his opera The Fairy Queen, we were transported forwards in time to the 19th century with some well known songs by Franz Schubert including Die Forelle – The trout. Not stopping there long we were off into the 20th century with a selection of beautiful songs by Francis Poulenc and Roger Quilter. Blessed with a voice of extraordinary purity, it was astonishing to hear this diminutive soprano belting out these glorious songs with such professional ease.
Four artists on their way to the top of their profession, inspiring one another in the performance of music they are all patently passionate about. Lucky for us they stopped by…..