...“an eloquent and idiomatic performance, beautifully sung and compellingly acted”
-Catherine Bott, singer and presenter of the BBC’s Early Music Show about Cavalli’s La Calisto
"Harriet Fraser as Diana, both in propria persona and as Jove’s disguise, gave a performance which was touched by real distinction. She has a fine, rich soprano voice, powerful when required but also capable of genuine pianissimo”.
-About Cavalli's La Calisto
"Harriet Fraser's pure-toned, bright-edged soprano shaping Barber's lines with ravishing resonance."
'The duo displayed compelling artistry and ensemble qualities.'
-Musical Opinion May/June 2005 Read the Article
Musical Opinion May/June issue 2005
Harriet Fraser at the Purcell Room
Two engaging song cycles, by Roxanna Panufnik and Richard Blackford, receiving London Premieres formed highlights of an impressive and stimulating Purcell Room recital by the soprano Harriet Fraser, partnered by pianist William Hancox, on 15 February. Blackford’s evocative settings of six Emily Dickinson poems about love and death, cast a Schoenbergian atonality, set the varied texts with textures that ranged through delicate intertwining lines to swirling figures and dissonant chorales, finely crafted if slightly predictable.
By contrast Roxanna Panufnik’s If I Don’t Know came across as a delightfully entertaining Cycle with many imaginative touches. Reflecting much experience in choral and vocal composition, her setting captured the blend of serious and witty sentiment in seven poems by Wendy Cope, showing her inspired talent for dramatic gesture, often emphasizing a word or phrase either in cabaret-style speech or a throwaway motif. In the opening love song After the Lunch, in which bell-like chords support an expressive lyricism, there is a beautiful moment of humming, as if the singer is daydreaming on Waterloo Bridge, as suggested in the poem. The realization that the poetess is in love results in the melodic line being cut off brusquely and wittily.
Humming returns in the penultimate song By the Round Pond, which is also the most expressive, sung unaccompanied to a melody which veers repeatedly into a musing melisma. Musical humour colours three of the poems: Being Boring uses simple, boring harmonies; the pithy An unusual Cat-poem is recited unaccompanied with just a chord at the end curtly; and in The Uncertainty of the Poet the music echoes the ingenious permutation of words, yet there is always an underlying sense of sonorous tension which the two artists, who commissioned the work and premiered it at Cheltenham last summer, projected with theatrical panache.
Between the two new Cycles the duo displayed compelling artistry and ensemble qualities in a feast of song from both sides of the Atlantic. Samuel Barber’s Hermit Songs was richly portrayed, Harriet Fraser’s pure-toned, bright-edged soprano shaping Barber’s lines with ravishing resonance. Barber’s modal polytonal yearning tranquillity was contrasted by the effervescent youthfulness of Elliot Carter’s Warble for Lilac-Time, an early work, particularly demanding for the pianist. These were balanced by atmospheric songs by Herbert Howells and Vaughan Williams, as well as William Hancox’s sentisitively impressionistic solo account of Sea Idyll, an early character piece by Frank Bridge, who song Love went a-riding formed a rousing encore to an enthralling and rewarding programme.
"The results include highly-praised recitals at such venues as the Cheltenham Festival."
'"I love the immediacy of the concert platform; you've nothing to hide behind." Tuesday's Purcell Room programme will show how little Fraser needs to hide.'
-Time Out February 9-16 2005 Read the Article
“Then Harriet Fraser deployed her glorious voice in If I Don’t Know, Roxanna Panufnik’s settings of Wendy Cope’s verses.”
“Harriet Fraser’s wonderful singing helped bring the words of each piece to life”.
-Cheltenham Echo July 2004
“The soprano, Harriet Fraser has a voice of rare tonal beauty, filling the Hall with golden sound”
-Eastbourne Herald February 2004
“Fraser proved herself adaptable to the variations in mood, style and tempo, from the reflective feel of Rubbra’s plainsong-inspired pieces to the lyricism of Vaughan Williams, with her rich and vibrant voice”
-Oxford Times November 2003
“ What was spellbinding was the exact balance between composition and performance, between voice and accompaniment, music and words”
-Eastern Daily Press Feb 2002
"Fraser was magnificent in her moving interpretation of "Trois beaux oiseaux du Paradis." Her plaintive tone over the speechless choral background was affective in an eerie way."
-Theodore Bell for Culture Spot LA about Ravel's "Trois beaux oiseaux du Paradis" at Walt Disney Concert Hall