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Vaughan Williams and Friends

Vaughan Williams 3 Songs from Shakespeare
Gurney Five Elizabethan Songs
Vaughan Williams 2 Poems by Seumas O’Sullivan
Bliss Pastoral for clarinet and piano
Vaughan Williams 3 Vocalises for soprano and clarinet
Bliss Two Nursery Rhymes for soprano, clarinet and piano

Rubbra The Mystery (R. Hodgson); Rosa Mundi (R.A. Taylor); Cradle Song (P. Colum); Orpheus With His Lute (Shakespeare)
Finzi Let us garlands bring Op. 18
Vaughan Williams Linden Lea; The Winter’s Willow
Dring Jim Jay; Pelicans

Ailish Tynan soprano
Cora Burggraaf mezzo-soprano
Chen Halevi clarinet
Julius Drake piano

Wigmore Hall, 3 June 2009

This was a splendid evening showcase for English song, chosen and programmed, no doubt, by Julius Drake. Many of the songs were early samples of their composers' output, but none wasn't worth reviving. Three versions of Orpheus with his lute offered fascinating comparisons of word setting, Rubbra's the most expressive. Gurney's songs were probing, a poet as well as composer, his career sadly curtailed by the aftermath of his experiences in the War [q.v. http://www.musicweb-international.com/SandH/Oct99/gurney.htm].

The two singers were strong individual presences in voice and platform manner, both equally winning. Both were in fine voice and identified with the repertoire, mainly singing from memory. Before the interval a Bliss group was a charming novelty, introducing a mellifluous clarinettist who had come specially from Paris. Cora Burggraaf revelled in the wordless Vocalises. At the end, after Ailish Tynan had given a memorable account of Finzi's cycle, both came together for a tightly prepared account of what must have been novelties to most of us, humorous duets by Madeleine Dring. Finally, and to bring Chen Halevi back on stage, Julius Drake had commissioned a party piece from a Dutch Anglophile.

The concert, which was being recorded, was on the short side; hopefully destined for CD? Look out for it !

Peter Grahame Woolf

Do see our report of the first concert in this series devised by Julius Drake.