“a hugely impressive disc, testifying to the versatility and range of a singer who has already drawn comparisons with Janet Baker”
“A national treasure”
“Connolly's lovely singing reaches to the sensuous core”
“Almost seven years ago we went to the Wigmore Hall expecting to hear a well known soprano only to find that she had been replaced by a less well-known mezzo. Sarah Connolly had already appeared with the English National Opera in major roles such as Handel's Xerxes and Donizetti's Mary Stuart. Disappointment at missing the scheduled artist vanished with the completion of the substitute's first phrases. Delight took its place and increased steadily throughout the recital. It was a clear, fresh and powerful voice, used with intelligent assurance, and by the final groups (Duparc and Falla) she had established with the audience the rapport of a much more experienced artist. What was true at the Wigmore holds for this concert at St John's, Smith Square, where her success with the audience is again unmistakable and fully merited. Again, her choice of programme contributes to the success: a judicious mixture of the familiar and out-of-the-way, and well suited to voice and style. The Brahms group is particularly satisfying, with Die Mainacht broadly phrased, Nachtwandler imaginatively hushed and Von ewigerLiebe warmly felt. The Hahn songs are equally (if contrastingly) delightful, the two pastiche pieces, A Chloris and Quand je fus pris au pavillon charmingly in period. Weill's Speak Low and Ireland's Her Song are winning encore pieces. That leaves Haydn's Arianna a Naxos, the long and demanding concert aria which opens the programme. Here we find a substantial achievement and a limitation. The style is admirably clean and the emotional range well probed, but the whole remains a little impersonal and one is driven to comparisons. Janet Baker brings warmer humanity and a more memorable timbre while Cecilia Bartoli is more vivid – hear her intense 'Tradita io sono' for instance, or the pale 'Già più non reggo' or the furious final 'Barbaro ed infedel'. That comparison does, however, throw into a very favourable light Eugene Asti's accompaniment: where András Schiff (for Bartoli) is over– assertive, Asti is sensitive and keeps proportion. And indeed he does so throughout: a constant pleasure and a major contribution to the recital's undoubted success.”
“Connolly woos her audience with the calling-card for any and every mezzo: Haydn's dramatic cantata, Arianna a Naxos. And every second of its nervous and emotional life - its hopes, fears and final despair - are uncovered in Connolly's superbly observant voice and imagination.”
“…a clear, fresh and powerful voice, used with intelligent assurance… The Brahms group is particularly satisfying, with Die Mainacht broadly phrased, Nachtwandler imaginatively hushed and Von ewiger Liebe warmly felt. The Hahn songs are equally… delightful, the two pastiche pieces, A Chloris and Quand je fus pris au pavillon charmingly in period. ...Weill's Speak Low and Ireland's Her Song are winning encore pieces.”
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