Anna Leese and Stephen de Pledge perform Italian Love Songs by Bellini, Puccini, Donizetti and Tosti. These elegant pieces for solo voice, some well known, others less so, connect directly with a rich and substantial body of Italian art songs, romanze and liriche da camera, composed over the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
New Zealand Soprano Anna Leese is a graduate of the University of Otago, the Royal College of Music and the Benjamin Britten International Opera School. Her many awards include the 2005 Richard Tauber Prize and she was recently named as an Arts Foundation New Generation Artist in New Zealand. Her roles for 2012/13 include Leila in Pearlfishers for Opera Holland Park (June), Majenka (The Bartered Bride) and Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) (August) for the New Zealand Opera, and concerts with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. As part of the acclaimed Prince Consort she will perform at Wigmore Hall in three concerts during 2013 (February, April, July), as part of their American Song Series.
New Zealand pianist Stephen De Pledge maintains a diverse and wide-ranging performing schedule, as soloist, chamber musician and song accompanist. He has already recorded a solo recital disc for Champs Hill Records.
“Correctly pronounced though her Italian always is, it lacks any true Italianate flavour...On the upside, she possess impeccable intonation and her pure, true soprano moves around the notes with skill and style. Stephen De Pledge playing is all present and correct.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2013 ***
“a gleaming soprano, like a pure beam of light...everything here is luminescent, like the sun at its radiant midday height...Leese sings [the Bellini] with a fine legato and just enough attention to the words...in her Tosti group she goes further, finding some tender colours in her voice.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2013