Monday 2 March 2020 – the Wesley Centre Concerts, now in its twenty-fifth season, started when the Chapel used part of a bequest from a former member to purchase a concert grand piano.
Andrew Hitchen, a member of the congregation, offered to programme some concerts. The series has grown, and he now puts on a programme of ten lunchtime and two evening concerts annually, with the piano at its core. We like to think of ourselves as the Wigmore Hall of the North, says Andrew Hitchen.
Monday’ recital was the second of the three song recitals of the season. It was given by the Portuguese soprano, Susana Gaspar, a former Jette Parker Young Artist at Covent Garden, and the Neapolitan pianist, Emma Abbate, now settled in London and making her fourth visit to the Wesley Centre.
They presented a well-constructed programme which opened with a group of four Schubert songs, followed by Debussy’s Fete Galantes, establishing Susana Gaspar’s credentials as a recitalist with a warm, expressive soprano voice.
Resphigi and Rodrigo are well-known as orchestral composers: the two groups of their songs that followed extended her dramatic range: the last two of the Rodrigo set showed off a charming wit.
She ended with more Shakespeare, this time set by another Austrian composer, Erich Korngold: together, they made a convincing case that his five Songs of the Clown from 1943 deserves to be better known.
By the end of the recital, it was apparent that Susana Gaspar is a star of the future, a dramatic personality with a beautiful voice based on sound technique. Throughout she was warmly supported by Emma Abbate, always the exemplary accompanist.
6 April 2020 at Wesley Chapel will feature Daniel Tong, a pianist with a wide-ranging musical life, performs two works by Brahms, the Piano Sonata no 3 in F minor Op 5 and Three Intermezzi Op 117 which he will be recording later this year. Admission £8 on the door.