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<<  -- 3 --  Robert Anderson    SATISFYING THE QUEST

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Seated on the front row, I could not always hear the Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir at the back when Rudland unleashed the full power of his very accomplished and mainly RCM orchestra under the resourceful control of Andrew Padmore. When the nightingale thought about the mystery of love and spread her wings to soar aloft, the choir might not have left its northern home for all the impression it made on the glorious Straussian sounds that virtually silenced it. The passage was not the less enjoyable for that, and its recurrence near the end of the work to express the student's crestfallen rejection of love merely confirmed one's appreciation of the composer's scoring skill. Subtle tappings and tinklings of percussion were at the other extreme, but no less effective.

From left to right: Oliver Rudland, Philip Shakesby, Shaun Dixon, Chloe Beecham and Lorna Bridge at the Royal College of Music, taking bows at the end of the first performance of 'The Nightingale and the Rose'. Photo © 2006 Keith Nisbet
From left to right: Oliver Rudland, Philip Shakesby, Shaun Dixon, Chloe Beecham and Lorna Bridge at the Royal College of Music, taking bows at the end of the first performance of 'The Nightingale and the Rose'. Photo © 2006 Keith Nisbet

It was obvious that the nightingale should be a soprano, and Lorna Bridge would have won the heart of any rose-bush by her appearance alone, let alone her quietly expressive voice. As the tenor student, Shaun Dixon has a raw deal but put as brave a vocal face on it as he could. I had never considered a rose-tree as baritone, but Philip Shakesby had to give the nightingale her death sentence, and sounded authoritative enough to do so. Only Chloe Beecham as the professor's daughter, sitting silent through more than nine hundred bars, and with very curmudgeonly sentiments to express, seemed inadequately treated. Might she not with advantage have been given an affectionate phrase or two at the start of the work expressive of her willingness to dance once in possession of a red rose? Rudland has tellingly added to and subtracted a little from Wilde's text in other places. How the opera would work on stage it is difficult to say; I hope it is not too long before I'm allowed to find out.

Copyright © 18 September 2006 Robert Anderson, London UK

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Young British composer Oliver Rudland (born 1983) has a strong interest in writing vocal music, especially opera. He is becoming known for modern and exciting tonal works in an accessible style. Rudland currently studies composition, harmony and counterpoint with Joseph Horovitz, piano with Neil Immelman and conducting with Patrick Bailey. He was awarded a foundation scholarship during his first undergraduate year at the Royal College of Music.

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