Concert review by Anne Dunn

James Gilchrist and Anna Tilbrook

Monday 26th January 2009

Pittville Pump Room


One of the aims of a musician is to communicate and tenor James Gilchrist with pianist Anna Tilbrook did this in spades.

Tenor James Gilchrist
Tenor James Gilchrist

As partner more than accompanist who never detracted attention from the singer, Anna Tilbrook technically and thoughtfully accommodated the variety of musical styles, from the neatness of Haydn through Schumann's Romanticism, the tricky Metamorphoses of Poulenc and the waywardness of Barber's Hermit Songs.

James Gilchrist makes his performance seem effortless, but every singer knows what hours of thought and vocal preparation have been involved in being able to give a flawless performance.

Interpretation is a personal thing, and he digs deep to find the right vocal colour that brings out every nuance of the words.

From the fantastic strength of Haydn's Sailor's Song to Barber's ten Hermit Songs via Lennox Berkeley's hauntingly beautiful Chinese Songs every moment was a joy.

In Schumann's Liederkreis Op. 24 he successfully gave interest to each verse of the strophic Berg' und Burgen and was overwhelming in his use of phrasing and dynamics in Schone Wiege.

He held his audience in unmoved silence during the encore in which we agreed with Purcell that "music - shall all your cares beguile".

I would add that it was a pity we heard little of his high tessitura as there is a beautiful sound there.