Recital Tour with James Baillieu

Wigmore Hall

"Although winners of the prestigious BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition have recently shown an alarming tendency to vanish without trace, the 2013 laureate Jamie Barton is clearly here to stay. A mezzo-soprano from the Deep South, she has already made her mark at the Met and Covent Garden, and her Wigmore Hall debut was ecstatically acclaimed. The applause was largely merited. Barton has an excellent technique, evenly spanning a cavernous lower register and a gleaming top; her breath control is apparently effortless, she sings perfectly in tune. There’s something of Marilyn Horne about the silver sheen and focus of the tone, but the voice is bigger and broader than Horne’s, and more than capable of firing the big guns demanded by Verdi and Wagner. She is also a born communicator, smiley and chatty and radiating infectious pleasure in the glorious noise she makes. For some delightfully sentimental yet subtly quirky songs by Charles Ives such as The Things our Father Loved, The Housatonic at Stockbridge and Old Home Day, Barton turned down the volume and evoked the composer’s small-town New England childhood with understated grace and warm humour. Having pulled back and relaxed, she could then release a final magnificent inundation over Sibelius’ hyper-romantic Flickan kom ifran and Var det en drom, ably supported by James Baillieu’s rapturous pianism."
–Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph

“I remember watching Jamie Barton’s performances during the Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 2013 and I was impressed with the amazing consistency she demonstrated through a wide range of repertoire. When I heard her performing the Witch’s aria from Hansel and Gretel in the final round I was convinced she should win the first prize and happily the judges agreed on that occasion. This was Barton’s Wigmore Hall début and she appeared relaxed and cheerful on stage talking happily to the audience and engaging in humorous banter. Barton’s operatic credentials were fully on display and she brought enormous power, rich colours and perfect intonation to the vocal line. Barton brought a sultry ripeness of tone to Turina’s Si con mis deseos and she showed her artistry across the vocal register in Al val de Fuente Ovejuna which contained powerful, reverberant low notes and thrilling top notes in the bravura close. Barton gave a highly sensitive performance of the [Dvorak Gypsy Songs] producing wonderful sustained lines and concluding with soft ethereal sounds. This was highly emotional and yet beautifully restrained singing that really got beneath the skin of the music.”
–Robert Beattie, Seen and Heard International

“Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton and pianist James Baillieu certainly know how to begin a recital at Wigmore Hall, filling it with the warm, bold sounds of Joaquín Turina's Homenaje a Lope de Vega. Barton's first phrase was nothing short of gorgeous (and ballsy to boot). Unrestrained, yet without sacrificing beauty of sound, the three Turina songs set the tone for an undeniably well-done recital from the pair. Barton earned herself the right to be amiable and funny onstage ("I'm at Wigmore Hall!"), during what she called a "love-fest" of some of her and Baillieu's favourite selections of art song repertoire. Their picks of Brahms Lieder, Dvořák's Gypsy Songs, and sets by Charles Ives and Jean Sibelius all seemed to give Barton the room her voice craves (and suited Baillieu's grounded, symphonic sound at the piano); yet they never missed an opportunity for subtlety. Barton's big smile is infectious, and her singing is totally satisfying. She left us heavy in our seats during Brahms' "Unbewegte laue Luft," and Dvořák's "Songs My Mother Taught Me," and she seemed to be making a good case for a definitive performance of Turina's Homenaje and the Sibelius songs. Even the songs by Ives - admittedly, not our favourite composer - conjured up a real world of American warmth, with tight hugs and loud conversations. It's notable that Barton never stepped into the world of opera for this recital - though it would have been a sure hit if she had. It's exciting when a singer has enough tools and expertise at her disposal, and still earns ovations without the slam-dunk of a Verdi aria.”
–Jenna Douglas, Schmopera

“American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton has a wonderful, characterful voice, with apparently effortless and even tone production and control. She seems to be able to spin out a quiet phrase – and just hold it forever. The fascination of witnessing Jamie Barton develop as a singer of the song repertoire will be to see the transition from the kind of songs which show off the glory of her voice, to those in which she knows she can tell a story…it promises to be a fascinating journey.”
–Sebastian Scotney, The Arts Desk

Beth Stewart