From around 160 applications, five soloists ended up competing in the Wigmore Hall / Kohn Foundation International Song Competition 2015 on Thursday 10 September. Milan Siljanov secured the first place in the Singers’ Prize, winning £10,000.
The second prize of £5,000 went to Samuel Hasselhorn. James Newby was placed third with £2,500 prize.
The results announced at the end of Thursday’s final were based on each singer’s performances throughout the four-day competition.
Baritone Samuel Hasselhorn combined youthful optimism with an enchanting sense of yearning in his half-hour recital. The Duparc – Phidyle – was especially enchanting. Sometimes his voice was lost in loud sections in Schubert’s Belshazzar; his diction strikiking in Reimann’s Before the Castle in the Trees.
Aoife Miskelly, a soprano from Northern Ireland, demonstrated her considerable versatility with a demanding programme of largely 20th Century music: a bright, spirited Winter and Spring by Dominick Argento livened up proceedings. This in stark contrast to Macmillan’s poignant The Children. In Havelock Nelson’s Dirty Work she showed us her innate sense of fun. Hers was a compelling performance of a wide-ranging programme.
British Baritone James Newby wowed the audience with his poise and exuberance, creating an air of irresistible charm where appropriate. By far the most successful of his programme was Finzi’s Let us garlands bring of which Who is Sylvia seemed as effortless as it was entrancing.
By far the most demanding and perhaps the riskiest programme was presented by American Spencer Lang. Did the tenor have the toughest job? I think so. Poulenc’s Such a day such a night presents a simple challenge for the singer: most of the songs begin and end a good deal more swiftly than anything else we heard during proceedings. Lang came into his own in I long only to love you and later in Hugo Wolf’s Four songs to texts by Joesph Freiherr von Eichendorff.
Bass baritone Milan Siljanov from Switzerland stole the show at the end of the final with a very varied programme in which he consistently demonstrated his innate, and often subtle but highly effective, stagecraft. Mahler’s Antony of Padua’s sermon to the fishes was a special treat – entertaining without being over-indulgent. Peter Warlock’s Captain Stratton’s fancy was fun (with a strangely British sense of humour to it). Georgii Sviridov’s Otchalivshaya Rus was compelling.
First – Milan Siljanov
Second – Samuel Hasselhorn
Third – James Newby
Pianist’s Prize: Nino Chokhonelidze
Jean Meikle Duo Prize: Kate Howden and Sachika Taniyama
Richard Tauber Schubert Lieder Prize: James Newby