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Sandrine Piau, Les Talens Lyriques, Wigmore Hall | reviews, news & interviews

Sandrine Piau, Les Talens Lyriques, Wigmore Hall

Sandrine Piau, Les Talens Lyriques, Wigmore Hall

Rarely heard religious poetry set by Purcell with astonishing beauty

Sandrine Piau: 'A heaven-sent vocal quality, as decorative, light-emitting and warblingly sunny as birdsong'

Who was a greater composer of words: Schubert or Purcell? A toss-up, I think, after a revelatory concert at the Wigmore Hall by Les Talens Lyriques with the French soprano Sandrine Piau on Saturday. The sheer quality of the poetry Purcell set in his Harmonia Sacra, collections of “divine hymns and dialogues”, is both profound and emotionally direct: “Lord, what is man?”, “In the black, dismal dungeon of despair”, “Music, for a while”... But it was a faintly contrary experience, delivered by a French singer whose English articulation did not quite coagulate as meaningful language, despite the beguiling sensuality of the experience.

This was a programme that demanded more: it demanded to take us into intimate, penetrating communication with the poets

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