Nicholas Yonge Society

Chamber Music in Lewes

24th January 2014

Debussy Ariettes oubliées
Strauss Songs
Poulenc Metamorphose
Boulanger Clarières dans le ciel
Liszt Petrarch Sonnets
Ireland Songs

Alison Farr & John Paul Ekins in performance 

Louise Alder’s formidable technique became obvious from the first moment with her choice of Debussy’s Ariettes oubliées, her lovely voice soaring unerringly towards her top notes while at other times coming over with sensitive restraint. Ably accompanied by John Paul Elkins, his hands scampering over the keys in the composer’s depiction of the whirling of a merry-go-round, Alder moved on to Richard Strauss songs. Once again, her full voice was quite at home here, and it is no surprise that she has been chosen as understudy for Sophie in this summer’s performances of Rosenkavalier at Glyndebourne. Her next choice, Poulenc’s Metamorphose, moved the musical mood into the mid-twentieth century. Then Lili Boulanger’s Clariéres dans le ciel brought the first half of the programme to an end. Written just before her death when the brilliant young composer was still in her twenties, this selection from her song cycle was beautifully sung and as always during this evening, very well accompanied.

The second half started with three of Liszt’s Petrarch Sonnets.  These present considerable technical problems which both musicians met with style. After this passionate musical hurly-burly, it was nice to finish with two songs by John Ireland, the last of which, I have twelve oxen, completed the programme on a resoundingly down to earth note. But there was one more treat to come by way of an encore: a love song by Ivor Novello sung so ravishingly it could almost pass for great music.  

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Reviewer: Nicholas Tucker
Photographer: David James