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Brighton Year-Round 2022

Michele Roszak and Lynda Spinney: Spring’s Arrival

Michele Roszak and Lynda Spinney

Genre: Live Music, Music

Venue: St Nicholas Brighton, Dyke Road


Low Down

Michele Roszak and Lynda Spinney have put together another adventurous programme for St Nicholas based around Spring’s Arrival. Kern, Hayden Wood, Novello, Schubert Ireland, Debussy,  Rodgers, Warlock and Kern were featured. Gartlan was the encore.


Michele Roszak and Lynda Spinney now attract a loyal following even in a covid hiatus of two years. This is their second recital after the watershed for their six-monthly return to St Nicholas.

Yet again the duo come up with fresh, inventive programme. ‘Spring’s Arrival’ this April’s theme is helped by Roszak’s supple agility and effortless capacity, as well as a witty acting physicality, particularly in an encore.

Roszak’s as ever a singer who holds you whilst pushing her range through the soprano register to a creamy top line. There’s also a mezzo reach that rather suits the Novello and Kern numbers, but it’s important in most of the nine (with the encore, ten) items here.

Roszak certainly makes you forget she was a mezzo yet possesses the chest register for that too. There’s slinky humour, storytelling, above all the ability to touch an audience with themselves.

Spinney’s as ever an ideal partner. Her pianism’s crisp, pointed, delicate and never clangourous except very rarely when required. She’s at home in the French Elysian piano here, recently reconditioned. In the Debussy song Spinney’s virtuosity comes into its own – it’s as much a song for piano as voice; and in the Hayden Wood a delicacy and lyric memorability in filigree again featured the piano – Wood wrote a Piano Concerto.

Jerome Kern topped and tailed thid reital. WE led off with ‘You are Love’ with its memorable tug and refrain, a lyric sway that shwos Roszak to advantage and aplomb.

Hayden Wood’s equally memorable filigree ‘Memories of Yesterday’ is the ‘my sorrow springs’ type of spring song, and it’s a real stunner – no wonder it earned an encore request. Wood born in 1882 the ear of Stravinsky Szymanowski and Kodaly was a more traditional Yorkshire composer successor to composers like Edward German and Sidney Jones. His range is wide – that Piano Concerto was recorded by Hyperion and though a lighter composer there’s a delicacy, and a real romanticism in this art song. Roszak fines her voice down here and then swoops.

Ivor Novello’s ‘Waltz of my Heart’ is exactly that, in waltz-time and is another Novello small gem we’ve lost ear of. Roszak delights in the lilt and catch of this, and enjoys a deeper register too.

Schubert’s ‘Frühlingsglaube’ is one of his more exuberant ye chromatically quite rich pieces, a complex glint of a piece. It’s over and worth hearing again, a subtle realisation from Roszak here.

John Ireland’s one of the second generation composers of the great  British revival born 1879, the year of Frank Bridge, Hamilton Harty and Thomas Beecham. ‘Spring Sorrow’ sets Rupert Brooke’s poem of breakdown after breakup with Ka Cox. It’s an harmonically elusive piece, subtle and again worth hearing again straight afterwards.

Debussy’s ‘Voici que le Printemps’ features such a rich piano part that Spinney’s equally spellbinding here, as relatively early Debussy harmonies spin around Roszak’s vocal line, quite special and like many Debussy songs, relatively unknown.

Richard Rodgers of Hart and Hammerstein fame shows verve and panache and a real melodic power in ‘Spring is Here’ bringing the musical to the more concentrated world of song-writing; a perfct Roszak vehicle.

Peter Warlock (1894-1930) the pseudonym of ferocious music critic Philip Heseltine could write a devastating song cycle like The Curlew that explored the bipolarity that killed him. And a mor rumbustious died, like this nailingly tuneful take on Shakespeare’s ‘Pretty Ring time’ often set but never as well as here. Warlock was a roisterer and a sexual libertine, and it’s that DNA that whoops u this small masterpiece. So dos Roszak and she nails the top-note finale to the church roof.

Kern reappears in the more romantic ‘All the Things You Are’ and this unashamedly romantic but also richly memorable  piece is the perfect finale.

Of course there’d be encores though Roszak winningly said she’d gauge d the audience response before announcing one. George F Gartlan’s comically tender ‘The Lilac Tree’ and a boy and girl’s first kiss is touching, naïve and a wonderful opportunity for Roszak to display her more theatrical gifts in a light but perfectly sweet     work.

And the MC suggested Roszak might sing something else. They hadn’t got anything else prepared, but would the audience nominate a song? Hayden Wood was chosen, and you wonder anew at its glowing solo piano part sashayed in and out of Roszak’s darkly lyric soprano.

They’ll be back in September. In the meantime, what a terrific way to blow the cherry blossom.