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Nicely Caught

A song recital by Richard Roddis and Clive Pollard,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


Richard Roddis and Clive Pollard's latest song recital (The Voice Box, Derby, UK, 23 February 2008) was an all-British programme beginning with O fair to see, a collection of Finzi's songs assembled after his death. The performance had the measure of their wide expressive range, from the bold, dramatic opening of the Hardy setting I say 'I'll seek her side' to the introspection of Only the Wanderer (Finzi's only setting of words by poet and fellow-composer Ivor Gurney) and the poignant Blunden setting To Joy.

Britten's Auden cycle On this Island was an apt contrast, in which the expressive shift between the two halves of the opening song was sharply delineated. There was a palpable sense of mounting anger in Now the leaves are falling fast, Nocturne was powerfully hypnotic, and the sardonic tone of As it is, plenty was nicely caught.

Vaughan Williams' Songs of Travel occupied the second half, and Richard Roddis had the bright idea of interspersing the songs with readings of the poems from the Robert Louis Stevenson collection that Vaughan Williams did not set. They rounded out our understanding of the cycle as a whole and added to the profound impression left by the songs. The Vagabond was sturdy, with an air of defiance; the expressive climaxes of Youth and Love and In Dreams Unhappy were powerful, and the concluding song was eloquent in its restraint.

Throughout the recital, Clive Pollard's playing was undemonstrably sympathetic, the last verse of Vaughan Williams' Whither must I Wander? making a particularly sensitive impression.

As always, Richard Roddis' spoken introductions -- informal without being over-chatty -- added to the evening's enjoyment.

Copyright © 29 February 2008 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK


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