Review: I Fagiolini at Norwich Cathedral

NNF16. The Analogues. Photo: supplied.

NNF16. The Analogues. Photo: supplied. - Credit: supplied

Sweet singing by eight voices that blended without losing individual character gave life to I Fagiolini's programme. It had the title Amuse-Bouche, a good-humoured, if not really very apt reference to the nibbles served at cocktail parties.

With a line in attractive laid-back humour Robert Hollingworth, the director of the group, steered us through a particularly interesting selection of French songs, some well-known and others quite unfamiliar.

Love and the beauty of nature were major themes, and Debussy's settings of three lyrics by Charles d'Orleans also had the singers echoing the throbbing of the tambourine with the relish and precision typical of disciplined, well-balanced performances that plainly appealed to the large audience.

Songs from the nineteenth century were full of luxuriant sensuality spiced with exoticism. More modern ones, like Poulenc's Snowy Evening cycle, were more challenging responses to more difficult texts treating urgent contemporary concerns.

Variety was added by a pair of delightful examples of the French folk tradition and two of Faure's songs. They were interpreted with taut concentration by the soprano Helen Neeves. She was accompanied by Anna Markland, who also played two pieces by Satie and the Adagio from Ravel's G major Piano Concerto in Richard Williams' arrangement with intriguing vocal developments.

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Christopher Smith

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