Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Joan Edgecumbe & Dorothy Ferrier Edward Elgar's "Sea Pictures", Bantock, Walton, Finzi & Sondheim - & a Duet by Rossini with Pianist Dorothy Worthington Glenorchy Church Wednesday 28 October 2015

Joan Edgecumbe
Dorothy Ferrier

The Glenorchy 2015/16 concert series is now well under way. This week the fourth recital was provided by mezzo soprano Joan Edgecumbe and soprano Dorothy Ferrier.

Joan held the audience in her thrall for the first half of the programme with a complete performance of Sir Edward Elgar's "Sea Pictures". These five poems by nineteenth century authors were set for voice and full orchestra, and the 'orchestra' was provided by Dorothy Worthington at the Venables grand piano. Dorothy's playing was complex, but gentle, with many very impressive endings played into the ensuing silence. Often a song would end with just a few isolated notes on the piano dying away to nothing - very skilled work.

Joan sang beautifully and faultlessly with great composure, very close to the audience. The songs were long and lyrical, and held the audience's attention like a magnet. Each was sweeter than the last, and the firm favourite was "Where Corals Lie" with words by Richard Garnett.

Sadly, baritone John Brindley was not able to join us for duets with Joan, but Dorothy Ferrier agreed to 'fill in' for him. What a delicious filling it turned out to be. Dorothy took up the baton with Harold Boulton's poem "Song of the Seals" put to music by Granville Bantock (and deftly played by Dorothy Worthington). Dorothy Ferrier's Scots accent made easy work of the complex Western Isles inspired chorus, "Hoiran, oiran, oiran, eelaleuran . . . " etc.
"The Metamorphosis
of Daphne into a
Laurel Tree by Apollo"
(Charles Sims 1873-1928)

Dorothy (Ferrier) then gave a very succinct and engaging introduction to Sir William Walton's setting of Edith Sitwell's poem "Daphne", which he composed in the 1970s after Edith died, as part of "Façade Revived". (The later compilation "Façade II" can be heard at Exeter Phoenix this Sunday evening, with Kate Westbrook reciting Edith Sitwell's poetry as part of Emma Welton's concert "Lavolta".) The song was equally entrancing, and the story of Daphne's transformation into a tree to escape Apollo delighted us again in musical form.

Dorothy continued to enthrall the audience with Gerald Finzi's settin of Edward Shanks' "As I lay in the Early Sun", and Stephen Sondheim's "Anyone can Whistle" from the musical of the same name, which drew wolf-whistles from the crowd.

Finally the two soloists combined their voices in a comic song created by Robert Lucas de Pearsal after the style of Gioachino Rossini's opera "Otello" (1816). The "Duetto Buffo di due Gatti" has no words, but instead the singers express themselves in caterwauls, half human and half cat. The combined effect is enchanting, and competition between the two singers to find the most cat-like gave a highly amusing finish to the concert.

Throughout, Dorothy Worthington was working diligently at the piano, adding her own special musicality. A very impressive piece of work by all concerned. It was sad that John Brindley could not be with us, but Dorothy Ferrier amply made up for his absence.

Gioachino Rossini "Cat Duet"

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