Festival Music

Louise Alder & Dunedin Consort

Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

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Keith Bruce

five stars

EIF 2016 has already boasted many successes, but the solo debut of soprano Louise Alder is a very special story indeed. Drafted in at a day's notice to replace the indisposed Danielle de Niese for an all-Handel programme with Scotland's award-winning Dunedin Consort under the direction of Glasgow University's Professor John Butt, the former Edinburgh University student grabbed her opportunity with both hands, winning an audience response to her first appearance that threatened to bring the recital to a standstill after just half an hour.

In fact the young singer adopted nearly all of the programme as advertised, her particular qualification being a familiarity with the composer's rarely heard Opus 99 Il delirio amoroso which formed the second half of the concert. It was superb, her Italian diction and interaction with ensemble leader Huw Daniel and the other instrumentalists exemplary, but far-from-disappointed ticket-holders were already eating out of her hand by then.

In her single bold repertoire change to the slightly re-ordered programme, Alder prefaced de Niese's choice of Da Tempeste from Giulio Cesare with the aria Piangero la sorte mia (I will lament my destiny), arguably an even more expressively demanding aria from the same opera. It was after that coupling that the ovation erupted, and her version of Lascia ch'io pianga – from Rinaldo and one of Handel's greatest hits, present on many an opera sampler – was still to come. She garnished that with some very tasteful and thoughtful ornamentation.

The musicians, of course, provided the sort of muscular and passionate playing that Butt's direction demands, as listeners to BBC Radio 3 can hear when the concert is broadcast on Monday. Come Saturday they can hear Alder sing Mozart with the BBC SSO and Ilan Volkov at the Proms. She is having some week.