Review of An Evening of Classical European and Russian Music by Irina Tutt (Soprano) at St. Andrew’s Church, Witchford, Ely on Saturday 17th April 2010

Irina Tutt’s return to Witchford was a resounding success. The church was packed and you could feel the pride the villagers felt. Irina, a Russian soprano of note trained at the Conservatoire in St. Petersburg, married into the Tutt family in the village, and has been warmly welcomed ever since. In this generous concert she gave her time freely and wowed the audience with her amazingly powerful and rich voice.

Dr Stepehn Ades put the church organ through its paces, accompanying Irina and performing solos with skill and assurance and Dr Stephen Taylor introduced each item providing intriguing background information to the artists and pieces.

The programme included a variety of works by Bach, Handel, Purcell Mozart, Schubert, Gounod, Widor and a number of Russian composers. 

The solos Irina sang were powerfully delivered, Irina’s rich voice giving the songs extra emotion and depth. One of the highlights for me was her performance of “Dido’s Lament” by Purcell. I have heard this lovely piece sung many times, but Irina’s interpretation was special. While Stephen Ades played the recurring bass line with steady assurance, Irina reinforced the familiar pleas of the singer with a spine-chilling and highly expressive colouring. Her words “Remember me” were not the plaintive cry I am used to hearing; these words were sung with strength and passion that demanded attention. This was indeed a woman suffering.

Another highlight was “Ave Maria” by Schubert and her opening strains were the most serene I have heard. Of the Russian songs, the “Vocalise No 14” by Zavalishina was the most impressive with an amazing expressive potency infusing the phrases.

Of the organ works played by Dr Stephen Ades, Widor’s Toccata from his 5th Symphony was particularly impressive. As he told me after the performance, this work needs to be approached differently according to the nature of the organ. He showed great sensitivity to the organ in St. Andrew’s and he gave this piece, so often played at the end of weddings, rare detail, clarity, expressive variety, space and strength. This organist is no ordinary performer and his technical prowess in Mushel’s “Toccata” was also very much in evidence.   

The concert ended with two fine encores: “Danny Boy”, that familiar folk-like song expressing a father’s concern for his son away at war and a very moving performance of Gershwin’s “The Man I Love”.

This was a wonderful evening, all the better for the fine team who organized the event so well. Let us hope that Irina will return to sing again soon.

Proceeds will be shared between the Children’s Cancer Ward C2 Addenbrooke’s Hospital and St Andrew’s Church Extension Fund.

Contacts:

IrinaTutt@yahoo.co.uk

Fiona.brampton@ely.aglician.org (St. Andrew’s Church)

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