Sometimes you just know instinctively that you’re going to enjoy a concert even before it starts. Such was the case with the recital given at the Holywell Music Room by the young South African baritone Njabulo Madlala. It was his first since winning the Kathleen Ferrier Award. His credentials speak for themselves – a graduate of Guildhall and the Cardiff International Academy of Voice, he has already appeared with Glyndebourne on Tour, Opera Holland Park, ROH2 and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, to name but a few.

So, as Madlala took to the platform, I felt sure that we were in for a memorable evening — and I wasn’t disappointed. As soon as he began to sing, I was swept away with the sheer beauty of his voice, and settled back to relish the rich, velvety tones that wafted through the room, enhanced by Madlala’s exquisite phrasing, masterful technique and strong interpretations.

The programme was nicely varied, from the very English songs of Roger Quilter to the passion of the German lieder of Schubert and Schumann, the dramatic intensity of Henri Duparc, the pastoral beauty of the likes of Vaughan Williams, Butterworth and Ireland, and the emotionally charged songs of Richard Strauss. Madlala switched deftly from one mood to the next, showcasing the versatility of his voice as he moved between the powerful and the lyrical.

But it was in the South African songs at the end that he really came into his own, wowing the audience with impressive tongue-clicking, foot stamping and jiving, and ensuring a fun, lively finish to the evening. Compatriot James Baillieu — an award-winning pianist — gave solid support throughout.

The recital was in aid of the Amazwi Omzansi (Voices of South Africa) Project, which gives support to young singers, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, in Madlala’s native Durban, so it was good to see it so well supported. Superb stuff.