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<<  -- 2 --  Malcolm Miller    HOUR OF MAGIC


One of the highlights of the evening was the particularly intriguing song cycle Vale of Tears Op 22 by Moszkowski, best known for his lively and attractive Spanish dances for duet and sets of Etudes. Though lacking the wit and panache of these works, Moszkowski's settings of five poems by A von Chamisso showed him a good exponent of the genre of German Lieder, the sharply characterised mood of each song imbued with perhaps slightly overbearing sentimentality, evident in the impassioned lyricism and Schumannesque epilogue to the last song.

More impressive were the two song cycles of the second half. The Vale of Night by Antonin Tucapsky, a Czech composer based in London, three delicate, lyrical tableaux, 'Moon', 'The Rain', and 'The Hour of Magic', the last of which gave the title to the concert. This original, accessible yet contemporary syntax gave full weight to the poetry by W H Davies which Ruti Halvani projected with warm appeal.

The climax was a set of Eight Popular Jewish Folk Songs arranged by Simon Laks, a survivor of Auschwitz, who retained the original traditional melodies with acerbic, searching accompaniments, creating a powerfully emotive and dramatic setting. Miss Halvani's Yiddish diction was admirably clear, including the song 'Di Alte Kashe' ('The Eternal Problem'), in a setting as beautifully mesmeric as Ravel's more famous version. Miss Halvani came into her own here and in the Russian songs, including seldom sung arias by Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky's masterly Mignon Op 6 No 6 and as encore, Rachmaninov's stirring Spring Waters, Op 14 No 11. It brought to a zenith an enjoyable, enriching evening with an enterprising programme choice of the kind much needed in an era of oft-repeated mainstream repertoire, and one looks forward to future performances by the Halvani-Brickman duo.

Copyright © 21 November 2002 Malcolm Miller, London, UK






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