Sunday 5 February 2012

Magid El-Bushra

On Wednesday we went to a private concert, raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust; at which counter-tenor Magid El-Bushra and lutenist Simon Linne played a selection of lute songs by Dowland and Purcell. It is a programme that they both recorded and played before, and this concert formed the beginning of a short tour that they are making. El-Bushra was born in the Sudan and studied at Magdalen College, Oxford and the RCM.

For all the apparent exoticism of his origin, El-Bushra speak and sings mellifluously beautiful English (he gave witty spoken introductions to the songs). Hearing this repertoire in a private surroundings was perfect, after all these are songs that were originally written for domestic consumption. El-Bushra has a beautiful voice and sang the lute songs as if he'd been doing so all his life. He and Linne opened with Dowland's Sorrow stay, and finished with Purcell's Evening Hymn, along the way taking in Dowland's Flow my tears and Come heavy sleep as well as Purcell's The fatal hour and Dear pretty youth. This latter, a theatre song for a female character, received an amusing performance from El-Bushra. In order to demonstrate that Dowland was not always gloomy, they performed his When Phoebus first did Daphne love. Simon Linne played two preludes by John Wilson as solos. For the Purcell pieces Linne played on a reconstruction of an English theorbo, slightly different to the Italian variety.

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