Friday 12 October 2012

London Song Festival

The London Song Festival returns on Wednesday 31 October for six concerts of lieder and song, at St. Paul's Church, Covent Garden. Artistic director Nigel Foster accompanies Yvonne Kenny, Roderick Williams and a fine array of young singers. Anniversaries touched on are John Ireland, Frederick Delius, Claude Debussy and Samuel Coleridge Taylor. These ensure that the recitals often have a 20th century theme running through them and we are going to be treated to some interesting and undeservedly neglected songs.

The season opens with Laura Wolk-Lewanowizc and Grant Doyle singing English and American comedy song, including Bernstein, Tom Lehrer and Flanders and Swann. Then Roderick Williams and Maire Flavin celebrate Distant and Mythical Lands - Places of the Imagination and of Dreams, with Granville Bantock's Songs from the Chinese, premieres of two songs by William Alwyn, John Ireland's The Land of Lost Content (to words by AE Housman), plus Bax, Finzi, Holst, Amy Woodforde-Finden and Noel Coward. Some rather tempting songs there indeed.

Anna Devin and Gillian Keith will be giving a complete performance of Debussy's Vasnier Songbook, written for the soprano Marie-Blanche Vasnier, a married woman with whom he had a seven year affair from the age of 18. It was Vasnier and her husband who introduced Debussy to the writings of influential French writers and encouraged his first songs. The relationship ended when Debussy won the Prix de Rome and had to go and live in Rome; just before leaving he gave Madame Vasnier a manuscript collection of songs, now known as the Vasnier Songbook.

In Delius and his World, Yvonne Kenny explores the songs of Delius, in the context of his friends and contemporaries, Warlock, CW Orr, Grainger, Robert Quilter, Bax, Debussy and Grieg - sounds another rather striking programme. Then Gary Griffiths (winner of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama Gold Medal) and Sylvie Bedouelle will be singing songs by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor including two cycles, Sorrow Songs and Songs of Sun and Shade plus songs by John Ireland including Earth's Call.

Songs of Wandering and of the Night sees Ruby Hughes (BBC Young Generation Artist) and Jonathan McGovern (ROSL Gold Medal) performing John Ireland's Songs of a Wayfarer, more William Alwyn premieres and some Schubert.

There is also a masterclass with Simon Keenlyside.

Further details from the London Song Festival website.

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