"Kenny’s lute spinning a translucent spider’s web": Kenny and Davies Wigmore Hall recital

30 June 2020

In a splendid live concert from Wigmore Hall, broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Elizabeth Kenny and Iestyn Davies reached a wide online audience with their recital featuring the works of Purcell, Dowland, Schubert and more. Their performance has been highly reviewed, as Kenny glided between lute, theorbo and guitar.

It was in Kenny’s solo arrangement for theorbo of Sefauchi’s Farewell, however, that the most virtuosic music of this section [Purcell] was heard… In another solo, Kenny unwound Robert Johnson’s Fantasia with languid elegance… Escape came at last in the honeyed reverie of the spellbinding encore, Handel’s Hide me from day’s garish eye.

Neil Fisher, The Times*****

The underlying sadness of Dowland’s songs, meanwhile, can spill into his instrumental pieces, and Kenny’s performance of his The King of Denmark’s Galliard captured the ambivalence of music that reflects even as it dances. Keenly alert to shifts in mood and meaning as an accompanist, and ceaselessly engaging in her solos, she played with beautifully understated dexterity throughout.

Tim Ashley, The Guardian****

Kenny’s own arrangement of keyboard work "Stefauchi’s Farewell" was witty and light while "Lilliburlero" cheered with a gentle sway… Kenny’s solo performance of Johnson's Fantasia was intricate and compelling, with delicately measured rubato, and Dowland’s "The King of Denmark, his Galliard" had a beautifully refined rusticity.

Miranda Heggie, The Arts Desk****

'By beauteous softness mixed with majesty’, from the first birthday Ode, offered more delicate, muted reflections, Kenny’s lute spinning a translucent spider’s web of interlocking voices… Kenny closed the Purcell sequence with her own arrangements of a brusque Rigadoon, a contemplative Farewell and a nonchalant ‘Lillibulero’, her playing always lucid and tender as she stroked and plucked her beautiful theorbo’s strings with care and understanding, nurturing Purcell’s music into being…

Claire Seymour, Opera Today

The combination of the countertenor voice and the lute is a very special one, the sweetness of one melding with the astringency of the other, and Davies and Elizabeth Kenny blended exquisitely here [Purcell]… Kenny’s arrangements of three of Purcell’s short pieces displayed the agility and versatility of the lute in such expert hands…

Melanie Eskenazi, MusicOMH*****

You can watch the performance here until 22nd July.

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