Folk songs and romance, wit and pathos

The Spirit's Song, Chamber Group of London @ St Michael's Church, Beccles

The Spirit's Song, Chamber Group of London @ St Michael's Church, Beccles


Beccles Church provided a beautiful background for a concert of folk song settings and Romantic compositions.

Paul Barritt, violin, Charles Medlam, cello and James Lisney, piano, make up the Romantic Chamber Group of London who are known for their choice of unusual repertoire.

They played with orchestral colour in the passionate and melodic Piano Trio in G major by Philip Scharwenka, brother of the more famous Xaver.

A witty, not to say frivolous side of Beethoven was evident in his delightful 10 Variations on Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu (I am Mr Cockatoo, the tailor). All three instruments played a solo variation before the final presto.

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The star of the evening was undoubtedly Emma Kirkby, a strong supporter of Wingfield Arts since its foundation.

She is the definitive singer of early music and is widening her scope to include the 19th century. Looking and singing like an angel, she ranged in mood from impishness to pathos in the varied selection of folk song settings by Haydn and Beethoven contrasted with chansons d'amour by the American Composer Amy Beach, whose work will be on Emma Kirkby's forthcoming CD with the Romantic Piano Trio.

The essence of solo song is communication and poor sight lines from the side aisles prevented Emma Kirkby from communicating with the majority of the audience.

I would suggest Wingfield Arts choose a more open venue, such as Diss Corn Hall or one of the large Nonconformist churches in the region, which would allow the whole of the audience to appreciate her artistry to the full.

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