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Two Little Words with Dame Felicity Palmer and Simon Lepper

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Two Little Words
Songs by Head, Palmer, Murray, Jacobs-Bond, Horovitz, Britten, Falla, Schubert, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Dring, Sondheim, Pritchett & Brahe
Felicity Palmer (mezzo-soprano), Simon Lepper (piano)
Resonus RES 10199

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In this hour-long recital Dame Felicity Palmer celebrates 50 years of a career that has seen her succeed in diverse genres to a degree as consistent as it has been wide-ranging. With her mezzo still steady and her diction a model, she is able to convey the varied repertoire here with admirable focus and expressivity, ideally supported by expert accompanist Simon Lepper.

The repertoire includes unusual items. Two songs by the singer’s musician father, Marshall Palmer, are attractive souvenirs of his talent, while in old-fashioned ballads by the likes of Mary H Brahe (not the obvious Bless this house) and Carrie Jacobs-Bond (I’ll walk beside you) Palmer avoids sentimentality and thereby gives them dignity.

It’s good, too, to hear one of Michael Head’s neglected but well-crafted songs amid Britten in French, Tchaikovsky in Russian, Falla in Spanish and a clutch of Lieder: the vivid interpreter in Palmer instils real grit and venom into Falla’s Poloand is impassioned in ‘None but the lonely heart’, while her infectious sense of humour shines through encore-type pieces by Madeleine Dring and John Pritchett.

A dramatic challenge is the substantial scena from Macbethset by Joseph Horovitz, in which Palmer is every inch Shakespeare’s ambitious consort, while Lepper’s highlights include the thrumming guitar-like figurations in Falla’s folk-songs and his magical legato in the Schubert Rosamunde Romance.

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George Hall