You can't get more local than singing at an old people's home in Kings Langley, realising you don't have a sustain pedal on your keyboard, and rushing over to Bushey to pick one up! Except of course that Thomas Isherwood is even more local than that. An operatic baritone with a sumptuous and versatile voice, he actually began his training at Watford School of Music at the tender age of eight. It's a pleasure to see a 'Hertfordshire lad done good' up on the Pump House stage taking part in the Watford Fringe.
His diverse repertoire took us on a well organised grand tour of English folk song, German lieder, Italian opera, art song, and musical theatre. The joy of the show was not just in his confident, clear performances which imbued the music with a passionate sense of character and narrative, but also in his charming contextualisation of the music. He balanced witty asides and personal anecdotes with knowledgeable insights about the history and traditions of his chosen songs.
Elspeth Wilkes was a marvellous accompanist, following closely and intuitively through fast paced patter, steep rallentandos and the free, open rhythms of Isherwood's storytelling style. Congratulations also to the sound technician who initially had quite a job on their hands managing the frequent switches between Isherwood's gentle, unassuming talking voice which he used to introduce each of his songs and the booming power of his baritone singing voice at full belt.
Overall, this recital was a delightful evening of musical appreciation which placed the love of song centre stage. Isherwood informed, educated, entertained and entranced in equal measure, delivering a beautiful voice matched with a sweet selection box of melodies.