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<<  -- 3 --  Rex Harley    SOMETHING SPECIAL


As the currently available recordings of this material demonstrate, the ways of performing it are myriad, from the purely a capella to the accompaniment of a band of shawms, crumhorns, rackets, and every percussion instrument known to the Middle Ages. Vocal styles are just as varied. Norburn and Taylor belong to the subtle school: muted but plaintive accompaniment counterpointing a singing voice which is both expressive and intimate; occasionally dramatic but never melodramatic. Several of the songs end with a sustained note, absolutely pianissimo, but perfectly audible in the acoustics of the church. It reminds me, however idiosyncratically, of the whisper of Ben Webster's saxophone on the final note of a heartfelt ballad. After a while it also strikes me that Clare Norburn's bare neck has a swan-like elegance, and the hue of alabaster. But perhaps I am a little too suggestible when exposed to a whole evening of troubadour poetry.

Bill Taylor, ancient harp music virtuoso
Bill Taylor, ancient harp music virtuoso

The audience appears more rapt than merely attentive, and the sustained applause as the concert ends seems to beg an encore. Our performers know the old maxim, however: 'Leave them wanting more.' Outside darkness has fallen and the moon, only just waning from full, has risen above the lights of the ghost motorway to the north. The stalls have been cleared of their wares. All that remain, on the grass, are the three large toadstools -- or are they mushrooms? They seem to have taken root. The audience melts into the night and I climb back into my car.

As I traverse the bridge once more it occurs to me that some days, possibly the very best, have a certain symmetry in their unfolding which somehow reassures. And when folded up, and tucked away in memory, you know that the freshness and the sparkling detail will remain bright for a long time to come.

There is something special about Aust.

Steve Tyler and Anne Marie Summers of Misericordia in concert at Aust church. Photo © 2003 Peter Dobbins
Steve Tyler and Anne Marie Summers of Misericordia in concert at Aust church. Photo © 2003 Peter Dobbins


Copyright © 16 September 2003 Rex Harley, Cardiff, UK



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