02 March 2019 (gig)
04 March 2019
The Japanese soprano Sara Kobayashi performed at the Wigmore Hall on Saturday 2nd March as the 2019 Avex Recital Series continued by way of her intimate lunchtime operatic performance, accompanied by pianist Ayaka Niwano.
Built around the end of the nineteenth century, Wigmore Hall’s acoustic design is internationally recognised, and, home to weekly Radio 3 live broadcasts; this is to take nothing away from Kobayashi’s ability to audibly fill a room, and by that I really do mean fill room; at times she was, possibly, in harmony with herself such is her vocal dexterity. As powerful as she is delicate, and, singing with such expression that the performance felt, for me, quite unique; testament to Kobayashi’s artistry.
There was sweeping variation through the first half, with Kobayashi introducing herself with Schubert’s 'Heidenroslein', detailed with incredible annunciation. Her repertoire also included, 'Kornblumen' by Strauss, 'Ariettes Oubliées' by Debusy, and, 'Tosti’s Quattro Canzoni D’Amaranta'; a wonderfully selected set of works stunningly delivered.
Returning after the interval with a second-half performance of Japanese compositions, Kobayashi opened with two pieces written for her by Dai Fujikura; the first 'Ki ti' [Japanese for listen] was delivered with a real sense of drama; a fascinating and absorbing performance.
A collection of 'Four Spring Wind Songs' by Kosaku Yamada was Kobayashi’s penultimate offering; from the short, booming, 'Aoki Fushido-Wo Ware Kazuru' to the rousing, proclaiming, 'Tataeyo, Shirabeyo, Utaitsureyo'. The afternoon’s finale was a performance of 'Mai', composed by Kunihiko Hashimoto; a tale of a woman’s broken heart, and her ensuing vengeance. You didn’t need to speak Japanese to feel the rage, it was palpable; the emotion transcending language in a way only opera can.
What you lose in a recital of independent short pieces, in terms of the story-telling journey, Kobayashi more than compensates for by making each part of her repertoire travel emotional distance in its own right; she makes sense, regardless of the language she sings in, you feel you understand exactly what she means, a complete performance.