Review: Sizzling Garrett lends pizazz to Harrogate Festival

Lesley Garrett.
Lesley Garrett.

Review by Malcolm Galloway

Harrogate International Festival, Opening Gala with Lesley Garrett, Royal Hall.

The opening concert at the Harrogate International Festival this year featured the popular soprano Lesley Garrett.

She last performed at the festival 33 years ago and is now one of the vice presidents of this festival.

Her recital included music from the past four centuries and began with the gentle traditional English song, Greensleeves.

The folk song was one of the key elements in this recital. We were later to hear four pieces from Songs of the Auvergne arranged by Joseph Cantaloupe and four songs from Lesley Garrett’s latest album, A North Country Lass.

All these songs were imaginatively arranged and were simply delightful.

The other key element in the recital was of an idea taken from Poulenc’s opera La Voix Humaine, that of forsaken women, especially of married women who have been abandoned by their husbands.

In Opera North’s recent production of this opera earlier this year, Lesley Garrett sang the role of Elle.

In an extract from this opera we were not only dazzled by Lesley Garrett’s performance but also by some spot lights shining on the audience which unfortunately proved to be too much of a distraction in this item.

This coloratura soprano was at her best singing an extract from Handel’s opera Radimisto and Benjamin Britten’s, Stop All The Clocks.

She was equally at ease singing the music of Noel Coward at the end of the concert.

All the songs were accompanied on the piano by Martin Pickard, who is currently Head of Music at Opera North.

These two worked well together, especially in Schubert’s Die Männer Sind Mechant, which was one of the best performances I’ve heard of this song.

I would liked to have heard Lesley Garrett sing some songs unaccompanied.

The start of The Last Rose of Summer would have been a good opportunity to have introduced some unaccompanied singing in this programme so enabling us to appreciate more of this exquisite voice.