Watch out for these names…

I have just come back from a wonderful concert of Schubert Lieder at the Australian National Academy of Music. The big sensation of the afternoon was a set of three songs performed by tenor Christopher Saunders accompanied by Berta Brozgul, a pianist at the Academy.

Oh. My. God. It was stunning. It was one of those moments in a concert where suddenly you realise that something really special is taking place and you are compelled to hang on to every word, every note. (I used to work at the Wigmore Hall in London, where every great artist performs, so I heard a lot of concerts. I quickly realised that great performances have something that sets them apart, so that the air in the hall shifts suddenly, and every single person is held in the moment. They aren’t all like that. It is rare, and incredibly powerful).

Christopher Saunders is a young tenor. They are both young. Afterwards the audience buzzed around, and theirs were the names on everyone’s lips.

How wonderful, to be so in agreement with everyone! How wonderful to go to a concert and find yourself truly transported by it! These are sad days for me, in general – lots of difficult things happening that I have to get through –  but this afternoon nothing mattered except the beauty of this music, and the magical, inhabited way it was performed. Bravi to the duo. I’m so glad I went.

41 comments so far

  1. Christopher Saunders on

    Thank you for your kind and heartfelt words. Schubert lieder is a a great love of mine and I was overwhelmed at the warm response from the audience on Sunday. I hope to find the time in the next 12 months to do a recording of Schubert lieder.

    Berta is an amazing young musician and it was a great pleasure to collaborate with her on this project.

    My best wishes to you,
    Christopher

  2. Tom Pyke on

    I have been a fan of this young man for some time now. It is a beautiful voice and he is so very expressive. I have heard he is recording another CD- His first being “Songs of Travel”- this one too being of English song. I look forward to it and to hear more of him in Melbourne.

    Tom Pyke.

  3. Val on

    Yesterday I had the enormous pleasure of sharing the stage with Christopher, as a member of the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Messiah Chorus (which also included Berta’s mother). Audience feedback this morning has been extremely enthusiastic. I can only endorse the Perth critic’s report of his performance there, “singing to the audience, not at them” and “it seemed he communicated intimately with every member of the audience”. His tone was beautiful, breath control dazzling, his expressiveness memorable. I hope Brisbane realises what a treasure they have in this young man.

  4. Mary J on

    I met Christopher in 2007 and he is a lovely young man with a most beautiful voice. He is singing a lieder recital for the Victorian Lieder Society next month in Melbourne. If you see nothing else this year you must go and hear him sing. You certainly won’t be disappointed!

  5. Mary J on

    I went to the lieder recital by Christopher Saunders and Berta Brozgul on Sunday the 16th of August. For those of us that were there it was a truly moving and uplifting experience. Christopher Saunders has one of the most beautiful tenor voices I have ever heard and his control was astonishing. ‘Nacht und Traume’ was seamless and transported the whole audience into another time and place while ‘Seligkeit’ and ‘Der Kuss’ were perfectly poised and you could hear the laughter from the audience as people were drawn in by his artistry. Berta Brozgul is a young pianist with such feeling and played so wonderfully throughout- supporting where needed and being commanding where called for. The couple are quite a pair and I hope that they record a CD of these songs! The concert was recorded by 3MBS so listen out for it by all means!

    • musicwork on

      I was there too, and yes, it was indeed beautiful and inspiring. They are still the performers to watch out for and seek out.

  6. Tom on

    I had the pleasure today to listen to Christopher Saunders and Berta Brozgul perform a lieder recital on 3MBS radio. This was singing of the highest order and the stylish playing was an absolute joy to listen to. I hope we get to hear a lot more of him.

  7. josh on

    Great singer! Very classy and artistic.

  8. Karen on

    I heard him do a recital at the Port Fairy Festival and it was truly beautiful. I was amazed by how expressive he is where other singers just stand and deliver. His Schubert is to die for!

    • musicwork on

      That was my feeling when I heard that recital at ANAM too, back in 2008. I’m so happy to get so many comments about Christopher Saunders from this blog post. He is clearly moving many people with his performances.

  9. Melanie on

    Last night I saw Christopher Saunders perform in Sydney Philharmonia’s production of Purcell’s King Arthur. He was truly amazing! He has a resonant and beautiful voice and his acting was superb! Why haven’t we heard more of this young Australian?

  10. susan on

    This guy has a voice of honey! Listening to his lieder recital I almost fainted! I hope we get to hear some Schubert from him in Sydney????

  11. Teresa on

    I usually prefer baritone and deeper voices to tenors but this man has a particularly beautiful voice that is not ‘white’ and ‘pinched’ like a lot of tenor voices. I agree that his Schubert is impressive not only for it’s beauty but also for his insight into the poetry.

  12. Jan on

    Last evening I had the pleasure to attend a Mozart evening at the Melbourne recital hall given by the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic. Prior to that there was another programme of Mozart chamber works and lieder and Christopher Saunders performed. I had no idea that we have such an artist, our own Australian at that, singing with such intelligence, artistry and beauty of tone. His lieder was the high point of the day. In the Mozart Vespers and Requiem the choir and orchestra made a majestic sound and the soloists truly shone. Christopher Saunders’ voice is a real discovery for me and was the highlight of this special day.

  13. Michael Sharp on

    I’m going to Christopher’s lieder recital this Sunday at the NSW’s Art Gallery. My friends and I are all looking forward to it!

    Michael C.

  14. Abby on

    The recital at the New South Wales Art Gallery was indeed beautiful and inspiring. Saunders not only uses his voice to display the many colours of his vocal palette but has a deep and profound understanding of the text and poetry he is singing. Saunders is a serious artist with a great vocal technique and with his considerable art, he makes it all look so effortless. We are indeed blessed to have a singer like this in this country.

  15. […] This one, about the Australian tenor, Christopher Saunders (be sure to read through the comments – I am not the only person who has heard him sing and was blown away) […]

  16. Jonathon on

    My wife and I heard his recital in Sydney and his voice is truly beautiful and we’ll be going to hear him in Pinchgut’s Griselda later this month.

  17. Paul on

    I heard Christopher Saunders on the radio a few months ago and was taken with the beauty of his tone. I’m going to hear him tomorrow night in Sydney singing a Messiah and am looking forward to it. I always come away from his concerts feeling refreshed like I’m hearing the songs for the first time and he’s so giving on stage. Great performer, artist and singer.

  18. Paul on

    Yesterday I saw Christopher sing the tenor solos in Handel’s Messiah in Christ Church in Sydney and it was stunning. I think he has a combination of style and and a brilliant sense of theatre but this is never ‘put on’ or over the top as he is a very sincere performer. A very nice man, I spoke to him after the performance and it turns out he has a cd of English song coming out in a months time which will be wonderful. I just thought I’d let you all know so be on the lookout. This will not disappoint. I count myself very lucky as he said he’d sent me a free copy. He is a must see for all lovers of beautiful singing.

    • musicwork on

      It is a while since I have heard Christopher, but receiving these comments from you Paul has prompted me to revisit the many comments that have been posted alongside this blog post that I wrote so long ago. It is indeed the combination of his beautiful voice and intelligent, dramatic, subtle interpretation of the text that blows people away again and again. A CD of English songs is indeed something to look forward to.

  19. Thomas Payne on

    After hearing Christopher on ABC classic fm this week I’ve had to find out more about this singer. The cd of the week sounds really beautiful and I’m looking forward to having it in my collection at home. What a superb artist he is. There is a sincerity in his voice and the song I heard on the radio this morning was very moving. Bravo.

  20. Gail on

    What a “find” Christopher Saunders is. It is not only the quality and warmth of his voice (so unlike the strangulated tone of many tenors) and his meticulous technique, but the sensitivity and emotion he puts into his singing which make his performances so special. He also has a remarkable rapport with his audience, singing to them, not at them; rather than burying his head in the score and “delivering from on high”, as many oratorio singers do, he seems to communicate personally with every listener, and draws them into the music with him.

    I first heard Christopher singing in Elijah and later The Messiah in Canberra, and never have I heard the tenor recitatives and arias sung with such feeling – a pleasant change from many performances that are simply “cranked out”. It is in his art songs, however, especially his lieder, that his passion for the music really comes to the fore and makes his performances absolutely riveting and extremely moving. You could have heard a pin drop at the recital of German lieder I heard in Melbourne – not only was each piece meticulously sung, but it seemed as if his heart was breaking. One native speaker insisted that he surely must be German, his diction and understanding of the poetry was so faultless! His two CDs of English songs, ranging from the whimsical and joyous to the immensely sad, show that he also has an intimate knowledge and intense love of the English art song.

    It is not often that we come across a singer like Christopher. Let’s just hope that he is sufficiently appreciated to hold him here.

  21. Samantha on

    I first heard Christopher sing on ABC Classic FM and thought he sang with a beautiful tone. I read a review of his CD Dark Wind Blowing saying that his singing reminds one of the great singers of song such as Gervase Elwes. I was intrigued as a lot of tenors blast away today without thinking of beauty of tone and while I agree he does have a intimate style and is so moving with his expression and articulation he reminds me of tenors of the ilk of Anthony Rolfe-Johnson, the great English tenor who passed away a couple of years ago now. Don’t be put off by the ‘English tenor’ quote. I mean this in the highest regard and as another person has stated on this blog, Saunders sings without the ‘white’ and ‘pinched tone’ that spoil a lot of performances by tenors.
    Last month I heard Saunders ‘live’ for the first time singing Haydn’s Creation with Graham Abbott conducting in Canberra. The singing was of the highest order. Once again the beauty of the voice is what captivates the listener. He is a superb artist who knows how to paint a picture for the audience and sings to everyone present and is a ‘sincere’ interpreter. To watch and hear a singer like this today is a rare treat. In an age of mediocrity in the art of singing we are lucky to have an ‘old school’ artist as Saunders. He has been trained well with some of the greats such as Sir Thomas Allen and world class vocal teachers. This shows but he puts the music first. A lot of singers would learn a great deal from this wonderful artist.

  22. Nancy on

    A dear friend gave to me a recording of Dark Wind Blowing by Christopher Saunders and Stefan Cassomenos. I have always love art song and lieder an was amazed by the musicality these two performers have. Christopher!!!! Please come back to Melbourne for another recital!!!

  23. Fleur on

    Can’t wait to see this beautiful man on stage in Sydney next month!

  24. Fleur on

    Giasone was a triumph in Sydney and so were you Mr Saunders! What a wonderful actor and singer. Can’t wait for the CD.

    • Charlie T on

      Beautiful, stylish, artistic and such a sincere performer. Love this guy x

  25. Sonia on

    Wow. Just wow. I saw Christopher and Plexus last night at the Melbourne Recital Centre. Beautiful singer, really, really beautiful.

  26. Craig on

    It is difficult to add to what has already been said about this amazing singer. Last night, at the Albert Hall, for the Canberra International Music Festival, Mr Saunders may have sung better than anyone I have ever heard live. Afterward a lady at the concert commented that he is a complete artist. Mr Saunders’ beauty of tone, interpretation and communication was incredibly impressive and moving. A once in a life time experience for myself and many listeners last night and a lesson in the art of singing.

  27. Craig on

    A voice that ‘speaks’ to the soul of the listener. His recordings are beautiful but, if I may be so bold, one needs to hear him live. A ‘spiritual’ experience.

  28. Craig on

    I am sorry to hear that Mr Saunders had a recent accident and has decided to stop singing for a while. At least this is what I recently heard. I was at the Port Fairy Festival a few weeks ago and heard Mr Saunders sing there. It was stunning singing. I hope he does not stay away from the stage too long. The following review from Classical Melbourne sheds good light on the performances there-

    Schubert’s Die schone Mullerin (The Lovely Maid of the Mill). The program advised it was “a gripping recollection of frustrated love, charting its stages from hope to despair” and one would have to say that tenor Christopher Saunders left the audience in no doubt about what was happening, so intense was his acting as well as his singing.

    At one hour 20 minutes, this was a demanding sing but Saunders’ rich voice always had power when he needed it, yet was tender, loving and lilting in contrast. Beautifully phrased and with a lovely tone, the vocal sound was matched by that of pianist Stefan Cassomenos, usually a soloist but on this occasion an accompanist in the best sense of that honourable profession. This was a partnership, but one that gave due deference to the singer, as the two balanced and complemented each other. Such a performance is not achieved without intensive rehearsal but more importantly a deep respect and sensitivity between musicians. It was a highlight of the Festival.

    Christopher Saunders appeared again in a performance by Plexus Trio, (Monica Curro, violin, Philip Arkinstall, clarinet and Cassomenos) an ensemble dedicated to the performance of contemporary chamber music. Premiering 22 new works by the end of this year, Plexus Trio’s final work in its concert at Port Fairy was The End of Many Worlds for tenor, violin, clarinet and piano by Gordon Kerry. The piece is dedicated to the composer’s great-uncle John Kerry, who died in Flanders in 1917. Works by Beethoven, Schumann, and Debussy had given the Trio the opportunity to show each member’s prowess, but Kerry’s work was exactly the kind of music audiences hoped for from this Festival

    • Gillian Howell on

      I heard that news from Christopher too, and I do hope that it is not a permanent farewell from performing. Those of us that have experienced his performances are fortunate, even more so if he is indeed retiring. Hopefully it is a decision to temporarily retreat, rest and recover, and to return to the stage when ready. I am certainly sending him my good wishes for this. I am always astounded by the number of visits and comments this particular blogpost has received – it is one of the most popular posts on my blog. It shows what an impact Christopher’s performances have. He is pretty special artist.

  29. Wendy on

    After reading about Christopher’s accident I must say I am shocked. I was at the Port Fairy Festival in October and heard his most moving, touching, heartbreaking and agonising Die schöne Müllerin. This was the most incredibly nuanced and most gripping I have ever encountered and I do hope Christopher comes back to give us more Schubert and the like. He is indeed a special artist. Australia needs this type of man treading the boards. My prayers and thoughts go out.

  30. Kaila Quang on

    I have been reading his thoughts for singers on his facebook and his knowledge is incredible. He is someone who knows the voices of the past, especially tenors, and I hope that he can give some talks to students on voice and stage presence? I hope you can Christopher.

  31. Craig on

    I’ve just found the recordings from the Canberra International music Festival on their website.

    Listen to Mr Saunders sing ‘Sure On This Shining Night’ with Calvin Bowman at the piano. Also pieces by Carpenter, Copland and Gurney.

    The Barber is especially beautiful I think.

    http://www.cimf.org.au/2014-concert-15-sounding-the-foreshore/

  32. Nicole P on

    Wow! I just stumbled on to this page to find all the love for Christopher. I saw opening night of Iphegenie a few nights ago and was blown away by this opera I did not know at all. I listened again last night on ABC Classic fm and thought Christopher sounded even better and more relaxed. Singing opera is an incredibly hard thing to do and with a neck problem like I’ve read he has he was amazing. Such a lovely sound and an amazing actor. Actually everyone was and special mention to Caitlin Hulcup and Grant Doyle whose performances were towering and powerful. Loved Margaret Plummer in the Diana moment at the end too. The orchestra sounded so rich in Angel place and everything about it was wonderful. Pinchgut opera has opened my eyes to new operas. I know what I’m looking for at Christmas! BTW Christopher has a great body too! Tenorhunks maybe???

  33. Shaun Webster on

    Interesting guy and lovely voice. I have listened to his lieder recordings and am really taken by his Schubert. His recording of Nacht und Träume is heavenly. Don’t get me wrong but an Australian tenor singing like this? So perfectly? No wonder, he studied with Gedda and others and it shows. Get better and come back stronger Chris. Would love to hear you sing Wolf.

  34. Emile on

    I have just listened to you, Christopher, singing Die Schone Mullerin on the ABC. With tears in my eyes, Thank you xxx

  35. Craig on

    The broadcast of Die schone Mullerin was indeed beautiful Christopher. Wonderfully and masterfully phrased with incredible insight to the poetry. You are a true artist.

  36. Rachael W on

    Christopher, Please, please,please record the Schubert Die Schone Mullerin!!!!!! So beautiful & touching.


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