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Friday, December 29, 2023

London Track Competition celebrates the bi-centenary of the Waterproof coat

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A gentleman's Mackintosh, from an 1893 catalogue
A gentleman’s Waterproof coat
from an 1893 catalogue

Rain in Metropolis and Nation: Clara Schumann, Samuel Barber, Margaret Bonds, Gerald Finzi, Debussy, Brahms, Schubert, John Eire, Elizabeth Maconchy, Schumann, Chausson, Albert Roussel, Herbert Hughes, Michael Head, Roger Quilter, Noah Max, David Ward; Ella Taylor, James Atkinson, David Mildon, Nigel Foster; London Track Competition at Hinde Avenue Methodist Church

A pleasant and fascinating programme exploring highways and byways of rain within the lied and tune repertoire, that includes two works specifically written for the night

This yr is the bicentenary of the invention of the Waterproof coat; in June 1823, Scottish chemist Charles Macintosh was granted a patent for a brand new waterproof material that sandwiched an impermeable layer of rubber between two layers of fabric. In celebration of this, Nigel Foster‘s London Track Competition offered a celebration of the Waterproof coat with Rain in Metropolis and Nation on Friday 17 November 2023 at Hinde Avenue Methodist Church. Foster was joined by soprano Ella Taylor, baritone James Atkinson and speaker David Mildon for a programme of songs by Clara Schumann, Samuel Barber, Margaret Bonds, Gerald Finzi, Debussy, Brahms, Schubert, John Eire, Elizabeth Maconchy, Schumann, Chausson, Albert Roussel, Herbert Hughes, Michael Head and Roger Quilter, plus the premieres of two songs written for the live performance by Noah Max and David Ward. Soprano Ella Taylor had stood in at very quick discover to switch an ailing Claire Sales space.

Issues started with the sound of rain and the solid appeared in rain gear and launched right into a full of life account of Singing within the Rain. Foster had organised the programme thematically, mixing songs with readings from David Mildon that includes each poems and witty one-liners, and first off it was Love within the Rain. Ella Taylor gave an pressing account of Clara Schumann’s Er ist gekommen, bringing nice distinction between fierce ardour and mellow tenderness. James Atkinson made Samuel Barber’s Rain has fallen reasonably gradual and thought of, the voice surrounded by a fragile internet of piano, however then issues obtained actually passionate. Margaret Bonds’ setting of Langston Hughes, April Rain Track, was nearly folks like, with Ella Taylor’s brilliant vocals over a flowing piano.

Rain – Reminiscences of Childhood featured Finzi’s Childhood among the many ferns, with Atkinson relishing the story-telling side of the tune, the folk-like melody combining with raindrops within the piano. Sorrow and Therapeutic within the Rain featured Debussy’s Il pleure dans mon coeur in an understated but versatile and pure account from Taylor, then a vibrant efficiency of Brahms’ Auf dem Kirchhofe from Atkinson, combining dramatic narrative with sober temper.

There have been three Schubert songs, unfold throughout two sections Storm and Battle then Calm after the Storm. Atkinson contributed a vigorous account of the folk-ish Der Schiffer with vivid piano taking part in from Foster, the Taylor was impulsive and vibrant in Rastlose Lieber, lastly Atkinson made Nach einem Gewitter intimate and delicate.

The primary half ended with Regardless of the Climate. Eire’s Weathers was participating with Atkinson seeming to speak to us over the delightfully lilting piano. Elizabeth Maconchy’s The Wind and the Rain was a stunning discovery. Spiky and jazzy, this was engagingly chatty with Taylor’s efficiency bringing out the work’s severe, intent nature and reasonably fierce on the finish. Neither folksy nor significantly Merrie England, actually not like the everyday twentieth century English composers’ settings of the Bard.

Half two started with The Pleasure of Rain; a vigorous account of Schumann’s Lust der Sturmnacht with Atkinson combining robust phrases with vibrant tone, then Chausson’s La pluie with Taylor bringing out the music’s underlying ardour, then they continued in intimate, confiding method with Roussel’s Le jardin mouille, which featured the fragile patter of rain within the piano.

Sorrow and Loss within the Rain started with Brahms’ Nachklang the place Taylor mixed vibrant tone with a way of melancholy. The primary premiere of the night was Rain by Noah Max (born 1998), setting the poem by Edward Thomas, sung by James Atkinson. This was a considerable and sophisticated piece, with the work’s quiet and contained opening part, that includes beautiful evocatively darkish piano writing, recurring in numerous varieties all through the tune, with extra highly effective and intense interludes the place the music moved extra. All featured a lyric line for the baritone supported by edgy harmonies, and the entire reasonably captured the unsettling, depressive nature of Thomas’ poem. This group accomplished with an excellent distinction, Herbert Hughes’ She weeps of Rahoon, sung by Taylor, featured a haunting, folk-like melody maybe influenced by Hughes’ gathering of Irish conventional tune.

Rain as Menace started with a late tune by Michael Head, Rain Storm sung by Atkinson. This was reasonably beautiful, intimate but participating with Atkinson relishing telling a narrative but rising to ardour on the finish. The second premiere was Rain, rain rain by David Ward (born 1941), setting textual content by up to date poet Neville Rigby. This was a duet, which featured quasi-rapturous moments for every voice, punctuated by a duet chorus. It was intelligently tonal, filled with intriguing harmonic quirks an the ending was putting, cries of ‘Rain, rain, rain’ over a terrific piano solo, adopted by a quiet unwinding that led to music that was quietly disturbing.

We ended with Roger Quilter’s Hey, ho, the Wind and the Rain sung as a duet. Right here Quilter set the identical textual content as Maconchy, however to vastly totally different impact, this model was a perky delight.

One of many delights of the programme was the best way that Foster mixed songs from so many various sources, and even the higher identified composers had been featured with songs that aren’t usually executed. This was a programme that revelled in exploration and the performances actually drew you in. Each singers had been on robust, participating type, each clearly relishing the intimate story-telling that tune depends upon and each had high quality diction. Specifically, there was little sense that Ella Taylor had crammed the entire programme in every week.

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