So our new outdoor concert adventure continues! Just because this was to be the second event didn’t mean that it would come with no surprises. In fact, there were so many ‘firsts’ this time around: an indoor piano to an outdoor audience; a tenor singer and a portable keyboard; the unique combination of guitar, accordion and voice; English songs and songs from around-the-world songs; and, this being England in July, a few drops of rain mid-performance.
To welcome the audience, RCM piano student Yuki Hammyo performed Toccata by Ravel and Barcarole by Chopin. In a first-time experiment, she was playing from inside the house to the outdoor, socially-distanced audience, but the lovely piano sound carried very well and I’m sure satisfied many as there has been so little live piano music for so long. The Barcarole, in particular, felt so suited to the occasion as the glorious melody flowed across the garden.
Fellow RCM tenor James Cobb took the initiative to introduce a variety of English songs, including lesser-known composers such as Quiller and Warlock. He showed off a dynamic range of voice; strong yet beautiful, warm and gentle.
I have nothing other than praise to offer for the main performers. Guitarist Andrey Lebedev’s no-nonsense, no-frill performing emphasized his admirable skill and preciseness; he made everything look effortless. Meanwhile, it was intriguing to watch Bartosz Glowacki manipulate his accordion and hear how it sang and wept; what a magical, emotional instrument. Mezzo soprano Lotte Betts-Dean was absolutely charming; her glowingly expressive voice was well-controlled, yet sounded care free. They took us on a joyful and emotional ride, with music from around the world. They put a smile on our face and left warmness in our heart. This was a concert to be remembered for a long time.
The only negative? Of course, the weather could have been better! But our performers and audience were resilient and the few drops of rain did not spoil the enjoyment of the afternoon.