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April 17, 2011 / garyalex

Music & Theatre Reviews

The Seasons

Burgate Singers

Burgate Church

 

Haydn’s oratorio derived from
an 18th century poem by James Thomson.

  Translated into German and back into English,
it bears scant resemblance to the original.

  It is basically a weather poem of bosky ways,
fog and tempests, with some Wordsworthian ‘meaning of life’ input.

  The Watteau-like images of nymphs and swains,
joyful toil and jocund airs meant that straight faces had to be kept at times.

  There was not much of the real 18th
century; but the Gothic meteorology gave scope for atmospheric performance.

  When the Burgate Sinfonia, under Alain Judd’s
direction, had to suggest fog, a splendidly wintry brume seemed to descend.

  When the choir, in full flow, sang of the
joys of summer, you felt like wiping your brow and murmuring, ‘Phew.’

  When they depicted a thunderstorm, in the
words of the libretto, ‘the firm and deep foundations of the earth itself were
moved’.

  The starry personality of soprano Katherine
McKrae and the redoubtable work of tenor Brian Parsons and bass Richard Fallas
tracked the changing seasons of a very good year.

 

The Basset Table

Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds

 

All the readers who have
heard of playwright Susanna Centlivre would probably fit into a phone box.

  But, in the 18th century, she was regarded as
second only to Aphra Behn. With characters like Lady Reveller, Lovely, Hearty
and Worthy, you can guess her style.

  Basset was a card game, prone to inflicting
massive losses; and Lady Reveller, like many others, is hooked on it. The
production featured a game, showing that it was one of pure chance.

  The Bury actors, at the Guildhall, were again
presenting a Script-in-Hand session, after only a day’s rehearsal. These have
proved popular and give a glimpse of theatrical work-in-progress.

  Suzanne Ahmet made a slinkily coquettish Lady
Reveller, both tigress and serpent.

Several of the actors have
become well-known locally through these readings. David Peart, Patrick Marlowe
and Nicholas Tizzard again brought all their experience and energy to their
roles.

  Jack Blumenau, son of the theatre’s director,
has a mighty atom quality, rather like the young Melvyn Hayes.

  It was good to see Emma Martin, also a
familiar face from local productions, appearing as Lady Lucy.

  When asked if they would like to see Lynn
Whitehead’s production developed into a full-length show, the audience voted
Yes.

 

 

Morley Consort of Voices

St. Mary’s Church, Diss

 

The aisles were full of
noises, sounds and sweet airs as the Morley Consort and the viols of Hexachord
entertained.

  The madrigal Fire, Fire My Heart opened the
concert like a shower of sparks, to be followed by the lachrymose Weep, O Mine
Eyes.

  It made you think about both the range and
subtext of 16th and early 17th century music. Love, sacred pieces, birdsong and
Spring awakening vie with lost love, stately pavans and street cries.

  The music has that ‘merrie’ quality, which
could mean happy, sad or both. No dance is without sensuality; and the pavan at
its most melancholy never loses a sense of lords and ladies in a romantic
ritual.

  Under the direction of Peter Aston, the
singers and musicians from the University
of East Anglia lived
these qualities.

  Helen Burn gave an eerie enchantment to a
sacred piece by Wilfrid Mellers, dating surprisingly from 1960.

 Daisy Bevan brought a soulful, ethereal magic
to the grieving maiden in Monteverdi’s Lamento Della Ninfa.

  Other highpoints were the consort songs,
especially written for voices and viols, and Gibbons’ The Cries of London,
proof that music was never meant to be for stuffed shirts in ivory towers.

  The concert was in aid of the church’s east window
fund. Look out for a murder mystery evening on 28 May.

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