27th October, Holywell Music Room
Baritone Roderick Williams sang Charlotte Bray’s splendid work at the beginning of the second half of a totally delightful concert. He had given us enchanting songs by Gabriel Fauré, John Ireland, and Henri Duparc and a rarely heard song-cycle by Ralph Vaughan Williams in the first half. The singing and playing were all of a terrifically high standard, as we have come to expect from him and his redoubtable pianist, Andrew West, but the first Ireland piece, Santa Chiara, set to a poem by Arthur Symons, was particularly moving and memorable. Roderick Williams simply has a wonderful voice and gives each performance with such interpretation and feeling that it’s a warm blanket experience every time.
Well, we came for the Bray and stayed for the Elgar. The final section of the second half was devoted to the fantastic Sea Pictures by Edward Elgar. These are typical works of the master, lots of catchy tunes, harmonic skills and stirring sentiments. We should have had the Union Jacks out: not so much Last Night at the Proms, as Third Last Night at the Lieder. The Sea Pictures cycle contains five songs, based on poems by five different poets, including a charming little one by his wife, Alice, called In Haven (Capri), and my favourite, Where Corals Lie, by Richard Garnett.
Roderick Williams topped off the recital with a sad little love song as his encore. It was a perfect musical vignette for a perfect evening.