Andrew O’Brien

CHRISTOPHER SMITH The Assembly House, Norwich


The Assembly House, Norwich

One of the most moving compositions from the Romantic period and a particularly attractive modern work made up a fine programme for this lunchtime recital by Andrew O'Brien.

Unluckily he was hampered by a cold, but he was still able to pull off an impressive performance. In Schumann's Dichterliebe he traced a path between the wide range of feelings of a poet's love. Sometimes the tone was bantering, sometimes injured, and passions were played out against the background of Rhineland scenery.

O'Brien was admirably partnered throughout by Sholto Kynoch. As well as supporting the singer he also made substantial contributions, setting moods and suggesting scenes. Best of all, he made the most of his opportunities in his postlude's, commenting musically on themes and adding impact in what were, in effect, concluding songs without words.

Winter Words were also interpreted with skill to convey Benjamin Britten's wholehearted responses to texts by Thomas Hardy that were full of his sympathy for suffering humanity. The Choir Master's Burial and At The Railway Station both came across as intense lyrical ballads, with every word clear and well placed. "How Long?" the final repeated cry, moved us from vivid episodes set in Dorset to life's unfathomable questions.

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