Matthew Wadsworth/Carolyn Sampson, Wigmore Hall, London
Reviewed by Michael Church
Wednesday 10 December 2008
The soprano Carolyn Sampson is blessed with a lovely voice and physical presence; the lutenist Matthew Wadsworth is blessed with a wonderfully philosophical attitude to the blindness that has afflicted him since birth. And as his new CD The Knight of the Lute demonstrates, he really is a class apart among exponents of this increasingly popular musical instrument.
Consisting of works by John Dowland and others, that CD has an austere beauty: bringing his long-term musical partner Carolyn Sampson into the equation at the Wigmore resulted in a beauty that was the opposite of austere. And Sampson, celebrating her post-maternity return to the stage, is in splendid voice.
"Not Just Dowland" was the programme's title, designed to celebrate both him and other lute composers from the turn of the 17th century. After welcoming us into that purer musical world with a prelude by Philip Rosseter, they regaled us with songs Robert Johnson composed for plays of the day. Sitting beside Wadsworth, and singing as much to him as to us, Sampson established a fireside confidentiality, using a folk-ballad tone with just the faintest hint of vibrato: her warm, open sound was arrestingly expressive.
When Wadsworth brought on the theorbo, and the songs became darker, we were in a different realm. Sampson's "In Darkness Let Me Dwell" began as a sad exhalation, dramatically broadening in plangency before dying back again. For some rarely performed Monteverdi songs, she reminded us what a fabulous sound she can summon up, while Wadsworth brought out the fruits of his musicological research. Everything was so perfect, the evening seemed to pass in a flash.
TVJamie's Sugar Rush reveal's campaigning chef's new foe
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 2 President Obama leaves touching comment on Humans of New York photo from Iran
- 3 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 4 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 5 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
The Gamechangers trailer: Daniel Radcliffe stars in GTA movie
Star Wars: New action dolls launched on Force Friday ahead of The Force Awakens release
Joan Aiken: Today's Google Doodle celebrates life of British fantasy novelist
Photographer captures the beauty and intensity of his girlfriend giving birth at home
Everything extra JK Rowling has revealed about Harry Potter
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees