Joanna Heslop re-establishes in Wellington with a Schumann recital

Schumann: Liederkreis, Op. 39; Frauenliebe und Leben

Joanna Heslop, soprano; Sarolta Boros Gyeve, piano

National Portrait Gallery; 16 February, 2011, 6pm

It was a delight to hear Joanna Heslop again, with her Serbian-born accompanist. Schumann’s exquisite songs were in safe hands with these two accomplished women.

Heslop’s German pronunciation and faultless diction conveyed the songs so clearly. Her variety of tone and timbre to suit the nature of each individual song, demonstrated the value of the time she has spent studying in St. Petersburg and elsewhere, and her accompanist matched her at every point with playing of clarity, accuracy, and sympathy. Never was she too loud, too soft, or at any place other than exactly where the singer was.

The varying moods of the words were always portrayed superbly – though it would have been good to have had all the words in the (undated) printed programme, instead of just the titles and the first lines (in English). However, that would have added cost to what was quite a short recital.

We need more recitals of this sort, and a sizeable audience proved that point, as indeed does the number of discs of songs that come up on Radio NZ Concert’s ‘Top of the Charts programme.

I’m sure we will hear more of Joanna, and from our point of view, it is great that she is back in Wellington. Her voice is attractive, well-produced and used intelligently. Perhaps it is not a distinguished voice, or one with outstanding characteristics, but it is thoroughly pleasant to listen to, and was ideal for this repertoire in a relatively small venue.

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