Thursday 13 March 2014

Magid el-Bushra in Lullaby for a Lost Soul

Magid El-Bushra (photo: Nadia Al-Sakkaf)
Magid El-Bushra
photo: Nadia Al-Sakkaf
Last night (12 March) we attended a private recital given by the counter-tenor Magid El-Bushra to celebrate the release of the CD of Ronald Corp's Lullaby for a Lost Soul. For the recital El-Bushra was joined by Jemma Freestone (flute), Julia Desbruslais (cello), Kizzy Brooks (vibraphone) and Chad Vindin (piano) to perform extracts from Corp's Lullaby for a Lost Soul along with songs by Schubert, Granados, Rachmaninov, Ireland, Corp and Britten.

Lullaby for a Lost Soul sets a sequence of poems by Francis Booth, originally written after the death of Booth's song. The full song cycle consists of 24 movements with songs interspersed by instrumental movements in which Corp has orchestrated/re-imagined music by John Dowland. Scored for the unusual combination of counter-tenor, flute, cello and vibraphone, El-Bushra, Freestone, Desbruslais and Brooks treated us to a selection of eight movement from the work, starting with a striking instrumental version of Dowland's Flow my tears.

Magid El-Bushra was born in Sudan and is now based in London, having trained at Magdalen College, Oxford, the Royal College of Music and the Flanders Opera Studio. His connection with Ronald Corp dates back to El-Bushra's period as a treble in the New London Children's Choir, which Ronald Corp directed.

In the second part of the programme Magid El-Bushra was joined by pianist Chad Vindin for a recital of songs, the repertoire ranging widely from Schubert through Granados and Rachmaninov to Britten. This represents a relatively new step for El-Bushra who has so far concentrated on Baroque and Renaissance music. He and Vindin started with Schubert's Lob der Tranen and Nachtstuck. In complete contrast these were followed by a pair of Enrique Granados songs, Llorad corazon, que teneis razon and Non lloreis, ojuelos sung in Spanish, then Sergei Rachmaninov's Siren (in Russian), John Ireland's Spring Sorror, Ronald Corp's Arab Love Song and Envoy, and finally a pair of Britten's folksongs, O Waly, Waly and Oliver Cromwell. All were sung from memory; the group formed an attractive and highly satisfying group and on this showing El-Bushra will be singing this repertoire again.

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