Review: classical recital, Buxton International Festival

Ashley Riches, Katherine Broderick and Simon Lepper

Kathryn Rudge was to have sung at this recital but she had to withdraw and was replaced at short notice by Katherine Broderick (pictured). This also resulted in considerable changes to the published programme but in the end this was as enjoyable an event as I have heard at this year’s Festival.

There was much more English song in the revised programme (poor Brahms being the main casualty). We began with Benjamin Britten’s arrangement of three pieces by Purcell. Sound the Trumpet I heard last just a week ago at my father-in-law’s funeral. He preferred the Dellers’ countertenor duet. To hear it for soprano and bass- baritone, and taken at quite a clip, made it  more celebratory for sure.

Four songs from Richard Strauss’ Op10 followed. Written when Strauss was just 20 they are among his most accessible and popular settings. Particularly moving was Allerseelen (All Saints’ Day).

Gerard Finzi’s setting of five of Shakespeare’s songs Let Us Garlands Bring is full of delights and the opening Come Away, Come Away, Death from Twelfth Night is especially fine. The well known O Mistress Mine and It Was A Lover and His Lass concluded.

Britten’s folk song arrangements were an addition to the programme. My own prejudice is against ‘high culture’ representing what is essentially a folk idiom and more often than not I would choose to hear The Trees They Do Grow High sung in a club by someone with half the skill and training of Ashley or Katherine. They overcame my prejudices however and it was a real pleasure to hear The foggy, foggy dew – for example – sung with such charm and wit.

It hardly needs saying that the singing was first rate and Simon Lepper was an engaging accompanist – slightly crouched over the piano having to support a very different set of songs to those he would have prepared for.

Keith Savage