Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Guest Reviewer, Amanda-Jane Doran

Bass-baritone Michael Mofidian thrilled to the depths with songs themed around isolation; he possesses a voice of maturity and weight.

Schubert’s Der Wanderer set an intense and darkly theatrical tone. Mofidian calibrated each stanza emotionally and musically with spellbinding energy. He imbued the setting with brooding drama; a bravura performance until the last stanza, which concluded in reflective almost nihilistic stillness.

His impressive linguistic gifts extended from German to Russian in the following set of Tchaikovsky songs, a highlight of the recital. Tolstoy’s Bless You Forests featured another wanderer, but this time embracing nature. French settings followed with Ravel’s Don Quichotte à Dulcinée, written for Chaliapin, emphasising in turn mobility and wit.

In celebration of Scottish culture and Mofidian’s home nation, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Songs of Travel, set by Ralph Vaughan Williams concluded the programme. Mofidian launched into ‘The Vagabond’ at full throttle. Perhaps a little more interiority would have made sense in the opening numbers, but by ‘In dreams’ and ‘The Infinite Shining Heavens’ his voice had settled quite magnificently, its expressive qualities and beautiful tone reminiscent of the great Thomas Allen, a mentor of Mofidian’s.

Mofidian’s instinctive feeling for Russian repertoire was underscored in his encore, Tchaikovsky’s Whether it’s Night or Day, a turbulent love-song worthy of Onegin. Julia Lynch’s accompaniment was equally stormy and passionate.