It is sometimes an unpredictable ride when attending a recital. What seemed like a straightforward programme of opera arias in the first half and lieder in the second became a very mixed up affair last night.
What made the biggest impression was Surguladze’s unfussy and confident platform manner. Not the one for too many ridiculous mannerisms or unnecessary overacting. Her presentation was simple and wide open eyed. Unfortunately what let her down was not getting used to the intimate acoustic of the Wigmore Hall. She spent a large part of the first half singing far too loudly and in the process compromising her technique, diction and colouring. The opening Mozart aria was rendered irritating with the excessive vibrato and the forced volume. Thankfully things started to settle mid way and led to two beautiful final arias. It was disappointing that her French was cloudy and a memory lapse mid aria did disturb what was otherwise a gorgeously sung Delila with all the sultry charms, chest voice and warm tone to die for. Her Acerba voluttà was exactly the kind of singing that excites me, full bloodied, open and dramatically involved. What was all too obvious was what a wonderful actress she must be in a fully staged opera.
The second half brought both a music stand on stage and a much more quiet delivery and appropriate interpretation. Her Schubert songs were lovingly delivered but not in the class we are used to at this particular Hall, with Alice Coote being the resident lieder deity. They need a quiet dignity and internalised emotion than only years of stage experience can bring. Given time she could be a compelling lieder interpreter in the future.
The most surprisingly satisfying songs were the three Brahms numbers where she brought glowing girlishness and attentive subtlety that presented her warm voice in the best possible light. Her Georgian encore was also a great showpiece for her glowing dark timbre and flowing legato.
She was accompanied rather beautifully by Gianluca Marcianò taking the night off from conducting an orchestra and playing for his leading lady. He showed to be a natural accompanist displaying textural variety and rapport. Having seen him conduct beautifully Bellini and Verdi last year I had high expectations and was not disappointed in the slightest. Makes me wish more conductors would accompany singers on the concert platform. As he brought a different sensibility than most professional accompanists which added to a pleasurable evening.
Once more a very enjoyable evening if a bit more mixed in results but this is the drama and excitement of live performance with many variables that can alter its course.
Some tweets from the evening