After an absence of fifteen months, it was wonderful to attend All Saints’ Church for a lunchtime concert with the June sunshine streaming in the south-facing windows. Bethany (Form 7) opened her recital by singing Vocalise by Sergei Rachmaninov. A song with no words, this piece presents numerous challenges to any performer but also the opportunity to express something both human and divine, which Bethany did with poise and feeling. Memorising such a long song without the benefit of a verbal narrative is an impressive feat.
Following this, we heard the song cycle On this island by Benjamin Britten. Let the florid music praise! naturally invokes the technical virtuosity of Early Music in Britten’s setting, with fast runs and arpeggios. Now as the leaves fall fast, a song bursting with energy and technical challenges was delivered with excellent intonation in the complex modulations, clear diction and confident posture. A particular highlight in the cycle was Nocturne, in which Britten finds a level of beauty through melancholy in some darker moods, with stormy and rich minor harmonies. To finish, As it is, plenty offered a final lift to the spirits and rounded off a most-welcome and enjoyable concert.