The intimate setting of the Wigmore Hall provided the ideal platform for mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn’s sensitive performance of songs by Faure, Chausson and Schumann. Her voice flowed apparently effortlessly through this varied repertoire, connecting powerfully with the audience. Stotjin has won numerous prestigious awards and on the basis of this performance it is easy to understand why as she wove a spell around her audience with her beautiful pure tone accompanied by rich colour and flawless diction. This was a performance full of life and personality.

Marco Borggreve
Marco Borggreve

Faure’s ‘Cinq Melodies de Venise’ make up his first song cycle. The collection of settings of poems by Verlaine provided great contrasts between each movement, starting with the jaunty playfulness of the ‘Mandoline’ and culminating in the lyrical and contemplative ‘En Soudine’. Her voice throughout the concert slipped effortlessly between the contrasting moods.

Stotijn is a story teller. Her voice and expression communicated each song of Schumann’s with character and sparkle. One song that particularly stood out for me was ‘Der Schwere Abend’ - The Oppressive Evening, ( from 6 Poems of Nikolaus Lenau) where she powerfully evoked the tension of ‘Die dunklen Wolken… Herab so bang und schwer’ (the dark clouds…so anxiously and heavy). I sat transfixed.

Another highlight of the Schumann programme was the Requiem, a setting of an old Catholic poem, Heloise’s lament for Abelard, which again demonstrated the colour and versatility of Stotijn’s voice. Of the second set of Schumann Lieder I especially enjoyed Stotijn’s heartfelt performance of ‘Widmung’since I am currently working on this song: her rendition was passionate but with appropriate restraint and tender wistfulness.

I was not familiar with the Chausson song cycle, Stotijn’s performance was extremely captivating. Chausson’s music really evokes the langour suggested in the title, with beautiful melody lines and accompaniment, played by Graham Johnson. The pair complemented each other perfectly throughout.

This was a highly enjoyable concert where Stotijn demonstrated consistent vocal excellence with a number of really magical moments.