The fifth concert in the current Oswestry School Recital Series featured a recital of German lieder and French song, given by one of the elite of English lyric tenors, James Gilchrist, and pianist Christopher Symons, who also directs this prestigious Series. An audience of over 200 responded very enthusiastically to the programme.
Beethoven’s song-cycle An die ferne Geliebte opened the recital. This was an especially apt opening item, in that this particular cycle (dealing with unrequited and lost love) was the first ever song cycle to be written.
Then another cycle, very different in mood, from the French composer Ravel – Histoires Naturelles. Painted in lush, impressionistic colours, these five songs each represent a different animal – a peacock, cricket, swan, king-fisher and guinea-fowl. In representations that border on caricature, Ravel’s marvellously imaginative settings bring out the all-too-human characteristics of each animal. Both performers obviously revelled in the challenge thus presented, and the audience shared their enthusiasm.
The final work was the last song-cycle of the greatest of all songsmiths, Schubert - his Schwanengesang. These settings of 14 poems cover a whole range of emotions, and evoked from both musicians a performance of amazing colour and intensity. The rapport and ensemble between the two was apparent to all, and the audience’s warm response was rewarded with a very tender encore (in English, what is more!) – Roger Quilter’s dreamy Go, lovely rose.