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Finzi - James Gilchrist - The Evening Standard


01 May 2005
The Evening Standard

A decade ago he was set to be a doctor, but James Gilchrist hung up his stethoscope and now occupies a place as one of the outstanding British tenors of his generation. Like other Baroque specialists before him, he has been mining the English song repertoire, and his recital last night productively explored both catalogues. In his opening Purcell group, he brought a supremely refined tone and expressive line to bear on Music For A While and O Solitude. The Purcellian motifs in Tippets Boyhood's End were neatly highlighted and Gilchrist's keen response to words carried him through the exuberant setting of WH Hudson's autobiographical text.

Gilchrist is a very physical performer and it was not only his vocal line that was animated in this ecstatic paean to the joys of living. Relishing the cavorting line at the word 'dance', he conjured the spirit of rapture, spinning off, in the final exultant phrase, into the 'immense shining void'.

Ryan Wigglesworth's From The Vaile of Restless Mynd, an anguished setting of Mediaeval verse, posed challenges for tenor and pianist alike. Anna Tilbrook was the excellent accompanist. I have no doubt he would have been a fine doctor, but I'm glad Gilchrist made the career choice he did.


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