One hour was certainly not enough time to hear the magical voice of young New Zealander Benson Wilson who sang Schubert, Mahler, Britten and Ravel in his lunchtime concert at Brighton Dome as part of the Brighton Festival.
Brilliantly and sensitively accompanied at the piano by Lucy Colqhoun, Benson is the winner of the prestigious Joan Sutherland award in 2018 and has a wonderful clarity and purity in his high notes and a rich voice below.
In Nacht Und Traume he gave us Schubert’s meditation on night and dreams with a wonderfully light floating section. The dramatic and tragic Erlkonig, with its frightening tale of an abducted and murdered child, had a dramatic intensity that filled the hall. And the same composer’s Im Abendrot was sad, lilting and gentle by comparison.
Mahler’s Songs of the Wayfarer are complex and multi-layered and bring out the huge contrasts in Benson’s stunning vocal range – at once sad, then joyful, then full of high drama.
On a much lighter note his rendition of Britten’s three folk tunes – The Salley Gardens, The Foggy Foggy Dew and The Last Rose Of Summer were light, whimsical and a joy to hear.
His final selection was three songs Maurice Ravel wrote for a film version of Don Quixote and they are – well – Quixotic! At times dissonant, at others drunkenly comic and at others deeply romantic – they were a delight to hear.
As an encore we got a sung prayer from his homeland. Let’s pray he comes back to Brighton soon.