An Afternoon of Mediterranean Music in the Sun

David Shavreen reviews the latest presentation of Blenheim Concerts

Blenheim Concerts

The next concert of the Seventeenth Season will be held at 3.30 p.m. on Sunday 11th July, in the Chiswick Catholic Centre. 2 Duke’s Avenue. Eleanor Percy (Violin) and lrina Lyakhovskaya (Piano) will play sonatas by Mozart, Poulenc, and Brahms.

The afternoon of 16th May was notable for being both sunny and warm; just the afternoon for Mediterranean music and the high tenor voice of Anando Sankar Mukerjee who presented a programme of songs ranging from the gracious charms of the Aria Antiche of Caccini and Alessandro Scarlatti, via Schumann’s “Dichterliebe” to the operatic arias of Puccini and Bizet and the popular ballads of Tosti.

Mr. Mukerjee’s genial personality could not be contained and he put it to good use both in his introductions to the music and in his careful articulation of the words, which, in these days of microphone mumbles and television sotto voces, is greatly to be commended. Singing, however, is an accomplishment which changes with the singer and develops with time and place. A young man brings vitality and excitement to which time will add a maturity of voice and life experience that will enable the imagination to cross the gulf that separates individual lives and find that human experience that shapes the common lot.

No small challenge, yet Mr. Mukerjee brought a formidable talent to the daunting task of uncovering the essence of these songs and arias. He has a fine voice, especially in the upper registers and is learning to use it expressively to cover the range of style and emotion that his programme demanded. This was nowhere clearer than in the central work, Schumann’s “Dichterliebe”. These are love songs with a difference; they run through a whole gamut of emotions from the first ecstasies through disillusion, frustration and grief to the final triumph and were inspired by Schumann’s own struggles to win the hand of the delectable Clara against the wishes of her father. They require a full panoply of vocal colours and a firm control. Certainly this was expressive singing, the overall shape was there but the temperature was a degree or so too cool in places and the voice betrayed a measure of insecurity in the lower register

After the interval he brought wit and charm to a group of British folk songs, arranged by Britten; a mellifluous tone to a group of Tosti ballads, and above all a fine dramatic delivery to Puccini’s famous aria “Che gelida manina” from La Boheme and the equally well-loved “La Fleur que tu m’avais jetée” from Bizet’s Carmen. In short we had a most rewarding afternoon from a young man whose talents breathe promise of a successful career ahead.

Of Richard Nunn there must be words of high praise. He is a seasoned accompanist and a very accomplished trainer of young singers whose subtle and sensitive playing allowed Mr. Mukerjee to express his talents to the full.

David Shavreen

May 28, 2004

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