Our May series gets under way this Wednesday with what promises to be a scintillating recital from Rachel Fenlon.
Rachel is a highly experienced and highly rated operatic and recital singer. She has worked - just in this last week - in Canada and Germany, with three recitals, one of them broadcast, in a wide variety of styles. She's also a professional opera soprano. More than that, she's also a highly accomplished pianist, and many of her recitals are self-accompanied.
That's an unusual thing - almost unique - in the professional classical world, and although I've got this picture in my mind of composers like Schubert playing and singing their new songs to their friends, that was in a small coterie, not on the concert stage.
What I'm hoping that Rachel will bring to the recital on Wednesday - which, to be clear, isn't an easy one for any pianist, including as it does Gretchen am Spinnrade among the other songs - is an intimacy and control of the music which it's difficult to get when you are working as a duo. Duos, of course, bring many other benefits, such as human interaction and the chance to react to the unpredictable nuances which your partner may throw into a live performance. Also, it allows the singer (which is almost unique amongst musicians) to interact with the audience directly.
That may not be possible if you're playing as well as singing. Will that make any difference to the overall effect? I don't know. Nor do you, as you'll almost certainly never have seen or heard a self-accompanied singer. So you'd better come along (Wednesday, 1.10pm, Saint Stephens) and find out.