A Child of Our Time

IAN COLLINS St Andrew's Hall, Norwich


> St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

Why does some music sound so English? Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Britten and Tippett make me think of sunken lanes and rippling fields.

Having been lulled by Michael Tippett's bucolic concerto for double string orchestra on Saturday – crisply and convincingly played by the Britten Sinfonia – we turned to roar and thunder.

Some 120 people celebrated Tippett's centenary with his masterpiece, A Child of our Time, started on the first day of the second world war and completed two years later in the darkest days of conflict.

Although conductor Nicholas Cleobury had lost his voice at the final rehearsal, he marshalled four fine soloists – Louise Walsh, Carole Wilson, Thomas Walker and Dawid Kimberg – the Britten Sinfonia and Festival Chorus into a superbly harmonious whole. At times we were nearly swept away by waves of sound – drowning out a car alarm and hail pounding on the roof.

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A Child of Our Time is tough stuff, but like all Tippett's work it is richly textured and, on Saturday, we grasped the silver lining of this particular cloud.

I left humming the Negro spirituals punctuating the oratorio – lifting the mood from despair to defiance.

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