Lockdown review: Bryn Terfel Live at the Barbican

Although this concert was delivered to a small audience present in the Barbican Hall, I watched it on the livestream, so it falls into the Lockdown category.

We had booked to watch Terfel at both the Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall this year, but the pandemic scuppered both. He was also due to perform at the Royal Opera House, where he is a regular.

When the Live at the Barbican series of concerts was announced – “generously supported by an anonymous donor”, it seemed only fitting that the honour of performing first in the space would go to the man who trained at the adjoining Guildhall School of Music.

In a concert which stretched to sixty-eight minutes, we are treated to a range of material from German arias from Bach, Shakespeare songs arranged by Finzi (heading back three decades to Terfel’s first professional performances), and Welsh classics from Novello.

Bryn Terfel, Live from the Barbican

New oboeist Myfanwy Price, musical director and pianist Iain Farrington, and the Britten Sinfonia led by Jacqueline Shave shine in a show which glows with joy and intimacy. As a singer and showman, Terfel can charm and command an audience with ease, and his words “I want you to be safe, and be healthy” seemed as genuine as his smile at being back before a live audience.

Shot largely from a camera positioned centre stalls, there are no flashy gimmicks and the inclusion of folk numbers Ar hyd y nos (All through the night) and Ar lan y mar harks back to Terfel’s formative years. This was a lovely programme, thoughtfully curated and beautifully delivered.

A fine return for a major City of London space. Live from the Barbican continues until 13 December 2020: details here.

Bryn Terfel’s concert streamed on 5 October – all stream rentals are accessible for 48 hours.

Image credit: Mark Allan