Blenheim Music Circle

Cecilia McDowall reviews coloratura soprano, Tanya Cooling, and Simon Lane

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Blenheim Concerts


The next concert is on Sunday 19th September 2010
at 3.30 pm in the Chiswick Catholic Centre.
Gemma Rosefield - cello
Simon Lepper - piano
Programme to include: Beethoven, Brahms, Barber, Paganini and McDowall

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On 4th July Blenheim Concerts had its very own Independence Day celebration given by two superb artists; the New Zealand born British coloratura soprano, Tanya Cooling, and her accompanist, Simon Lane. The balance and rapport between singer and accompanist was a real joy and together they presented an excellent programme which ranged from the serious and the dramatic arias of the first half to the effervescence and vitality of the second.

The repertoire chosen for the concert showcased Tanya’s voice in all its variety. She has an exceptional range, with an evenness of tone stretching from her lowest register to the bell-like purity of her top notes. This fine coloratura singer opened with Caro nome from Verdi’s opera Rigoletto giving an immediate taste of the precision, agility and beautiful melodic line of what was to come. A group of Richard Strauss songs particularly gave the audience the opportunity to appreciate Simon’s excellent technique; always sensitive, supportive and exquisite in every detail. His pianistic skill positively sparkled in the song, Ständchen (Serenade).

Two songs by Liszt, Enfant, si j’étais roi (Child, if I were king) and Oh! Quand je dors (Oh, when I sleep) were just delightful; the first robust with a melting end and the second contemplative, with beautifully phrased interjections in the accompaniment and a poised, sustained high note to conclude with. The dynamic contrast from pianist and singer was rich in its variety and always beautifully controlled.

The second half of the concert opened with The Laughing Song from J. Strauss’ Die Fledermaus and in this Tanya gave a wry, witty characterization of the song. Sondheim’s Green Finch and Linnet Bird (The Ballad of Sweeney Todd) was most touching, Gershwin’s Summertime, suitably languorous for a hot summer’s afternoon and two Lehar arias, invigorating. Tanya closed the concert with an unaccompanied traditional Maori song which was unaffected in its simplicity. This was a splendid concert given by two very fine musicians.

Cecilia McDowall

July 7, 2010