MIKE WHEELER was at a song recital
by Richard Roddis and Philip Robinson
Tenor Richard Roddis teamed up with pianist Philip Robinson for his latest song recital (The VoiceBox, Derby, UK, 12 September 2009). In an expertly structured programme, Part 1 explored aspects of night as explored by leading figures in the nineteenth-century German lied tradition. Following a poised account of Mozart's Abendempfindung, we were drawn effortlessly into the meditations of Schubert's Wanderer's Nachtlied and, later, Schumann's Mondnacht. There was plenty of dynamism in Schubert's Auf der Bruck, and the climaxes of Othmar Schoeck's Die Sternseherin had real power. Brahms' Vergebliches Ständchen is a gift to a singer with Richard Roddis' talent for characterisation, as is Schubert's Erlkönig, here given a genuinely scary performance, after which the quiet exaltation of Strauss' Morgen was a magically effective end to the first half.
Part 2 began with a group of A E Housman settings -- and not all the usual suspects either. Ivor Gurney and George Butterworth were certainly there, including a brisk, jaunty reading of Gurney's Ludlow Fair, vivid characterisation, again, in Butterworth's Is my Team Ploughing, and a nice defiant touch to the bravado of Think No more, Lad. But also included was Ian Venables' Because I Liked you Better, in which the stiff-upper-lip anguish was nicely shaded in, and The Cherry hung with Snow by Colin Ross, about whom Richard Roddis admitted defeat in his search for any information at all. This was perhaps the least successful song in the group, Ross apparently determined to build a grand climax in the middle verse that wasn't really warranted by the text.
In the final group there was plenty of good humour for Tobias Hume's celebration of Tobacco and Peter Warlock's of Good Ale, and for the laid-back, sly wit of Madeleine Dring's It was a Lover and His Lass, and singer and pianist had great fun with Britten's folk-song arrangement The Crocodile.
Philip Robinson was a aptly responsive pianist. Occasionally the piano threatened to overwhelm the voice, particularly in Auf der Bruck, but generally the balance was well handled.
Copyright © 19 September 2009