|Pianist John Scarfe concentrates closely as he accompanies soprano Mary O'Shea|
On Wednesday 9th November we saw an interesting cross-over between two concert series - Lunchtime Concerts' at Glenorchy United Reformed Church in Exmouth and 'Coffee and Music' at the Parish Church of St John the Baptist in Broadclyst.
The 'Lunchtime Concert this Wednesday was given by Pianist John Scarfe and Soprano Mary O'Shea. John Scarfe organises - and is usually associated with - the Broadclyst 'Coffee and Music' concerts. 'Coffee and Music' takes place on occasional Saturdays at Broadclyst Church. John Scarfe is the organist at the Church. The Rector, the Reverend Michael Partridge, whose family are all extremely talented musicians, takes a very active interest in the series and his daughter Bethany has performed - beautifully - at one of the concerts (See 'A Week of Music' 7th November 2010.
Taking centre stage - and star billing - on Wednesday was soprano Mary O'Shea. Mary has given several live performances on Phonic FM. She has performed her own modern compositions on Martin Hodge and Martin Henning's 'Roots and Shoots' programme (Monday evenings 6-8pm). On the 'Classical Journey she has made a name for herself singing a wide range of baroque, classical, romantic and modern music from the opera and solo repertoire. Following her first 'Classical Journey' appearance in October last year, Mary returned with John Scarfe and a beautiful selection of music which they performed together in the studio. (Classical Journey Tuesday 15th March 2011 - details.)
|Soprano Mary O'Shea - in fine voice|
|George Frederick Handel|
George Frederick Handel: 'Semele' - 'Where E'er You Walk'
This tenor aria from Handel's 1744 opera (transposed for soprano voice), expressing the love of Jupiter, the king of the Gods, for Semele (an incongruous figure in Greek mythology, being named after the Thraco-Phrygian Earth Goddess). Their love is consummated in the conception of Bacchus the god of wine. This song of unashamed flattery is always familiar - and popular. Mary immediately took control of the audience, commanding their attention with her strong gentle voice and perfect diction. "Trees where you sit, shall crowd into shade."
Allesandro Scarlatti: 'L'Honestà Negli Amori' - 'Gia il Sole dal Gange'
Immediately we are in Algeria, the setting of Scarlatti's 1680 opera ('Honesty in Love'). Allesandro, who was only nineteen years old was already married and had a child (not Domenico - he was born five years later.) The previous year his first opera 'Gli Equivoci Nell Sembiante' ('An Innocent Mistake') had impressed Queen Christina of Sweden (who lived in Rome). She made him her 'Maestro di Cappella' and he was able to prepare 'L'Honestà Negli Amori' as a full scale production at the Teatro di Palazzo Bernini.
Mary sings the part of Saladino the page-boy delighting in the warming rays of the sun drying the morning dew. The reference to the River Ganges in India is a figure of speach, meaning 'in the East'. Characters like Saladino are perfect for the soprano voice, and Mary made a perfect Saladino. Her Italian was very clear and easy to follow - and very sweet.
|Henry Purcell 1659-95|
|Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel|
|Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart|
|Franz Schubert 1797-1828|
The next song, from Germany this time, was sad - but only in hindsight. Franz Schubert's 'Ständchen' ('Serenade') was composed in 1828 and included in his 'Schwanengesang' ('Swan Song') collection after his death later that year. Ludwig Rellstab's words, "Leise flehen meine Lieder" ("My songs gently entreat you") exhort his lover to make him happy. Mary lingered over each word evoking not only the author's longing but also the flavour of late nineteenth century German culture. Beautifully done, and John subtle as ever.
|Robert and Clara Schumann|
Lithograph by J. Hofelich
The Bettmann Archive
Widmung is much more forthright in its emotional content. Friedrich Rückert's word's "Du meine Sele, du mein Herz" ("You my soul, you my heart") is charged with emotion. The following words, "You are my pain . . . You are my grave" create a very different feeling - overwhelming and terrifying love. John's chords were full of pathos, while he was careful not to overpower Mary's voice. After the final lingering words, "You raise me above myself - my good spirit, my better self", John's light last note left the sentiment hanging in the air.
|Dame Elizabeth Maconchy1907-94|
|An illustration by|
Isaac Taylor for the
1765 publication of
'The Fair Circassian'
|Thomas Arne 1710-78|
. . . Heal me with kisses, Love, or else I dy!"
" . . . and hither bring thy lips adorn'd with all the blooming springKnowing how affecting 'Ophelia's' Song' would be, Mary had come prepared with the antidote - an encore by eighteenth century composer Thomas Arne. The only surviving song from his opera 'The Fall of Phaeton' (written in 1736 when he was only 25 years old). W. Pritchard's amorous words, based on Samuel Croxall's 1720 'The Fair Circassian' put a smile on eveyone's face.
A delightful song, and a delightful way to end a perfect selection of songs spanning more than three hundred years of history. Soprano Mary O'Shea and Pianist John Scarfe have prepared something really special which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
|Mary acknowledges her piano accompanist|
- John Scarfe
Many thanks to David Lee for organising the whole series - and for playing the piano and organ himself on this occasion - and to David Southerns for making a welcome return to Glenorchy.
14th December: Val Howels (Soprano) John Brindley (Baritone) Frances Waters (Piano) 7th December: Kevin Hurst (Clarinet) Frances Waters (Piano)
30th November: Ana Laura Manero (Piano) Arturo Serna ('Cello) = 'Duo Teresa Carreño' (Venezuela)
23rd November: Dorothy Ferrier (Mezzo Soprano) Dorothy Worthington (Piano)
Glenorchy lunchtime concerts continue every Wednesday until Christmas. On 16th November Alex West returns to play music for piano and organ. Who could forget his recital of nineteenth century Parisian music. (That post is still regularly 'most popular' on this blog - details.)
If you missed this Wednesday's recital, or want to hear more, Mary and John will be preparing more delights for a 'Coffee and Music' recital on the morning of Saturday 24th March next year.
John will be giving another 'Coffee and Music' recital on the (newly restored) organ at the Parish Church of St John the Baptist, this Saturday 19th November 10.30am for 11.00 - coffee is served!:
Denis Bédard (b. 1950 Quebec): Andantino and Fantasy
Joseph Rheinberger (1839-1901 Liechtenstein): Cantilène Sonata
( - listen out for the bass line from Bach's 'Adagio in C')
Johann Goggried Walther (1684-1748 Thuringia - a cousin of Bach)
- Violin Concerto after Joseph Meck (1690-1758)
Louis Vierne (1870-1937 Paris): Berceuse & Lied
Gaston Bélier (1863-1938 Paris) Toccata in D minor
( - more bass in the style of Bach - listen for the pedal line)
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750 Weimar)