After delivering a suitably coquettish Ich hab in Penna, Liz Watts mischievously counted on her fingers to make sure she did have ten lovers in Castiglione during the piano postlude of the final song from Wolf’s Italian Songbook.
One of her natural assets is an ability to inhabit the character she is representing in the music she is singing without a trace of self-consciousness, and we had other graphic examples here among the previous nine vignettes from she sang from the work.
Once she and her no less superb piano partner Simon Lepper got themselves onto the same wavelength with the first one, employing a veritable gallery of facial expressions, the often-ironic humour of the songs was deliciously captured without vocal exaggeration.
Less animatedly, in more serious mode, the highlight of the evening was her collective delivery of five Duparc songs where she was able to deploy her quite powerful, superbly pliant soprano voice with a now impressively developed chest register to greater dramatic effect.
A beautifully voiced Phidylé, a positively gothic Extase and an earnest, intense La vie antérieure cry out for particular mention.
She had to get her voice into gear with the first of the five Strauss songs that began the evening, a little sadly the wonderful Ständchen, but it was soaring magnificently by the time she reached the fifth one, Befreit. The three lesser-known ones were rather splendid, too.
There was a tantalising glimpse of the highly accomplished Watts coloratura technique in the first Obradors item among seven Spanish songs and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, sung as encore, was rendered with simplicity and charm without a hint of affectation.