Gordon Pullin and John Cooper

CHRISTOPHER SMITH King of Hearts, Norwich


King of Hearts, Norwich

Welcome back again in Norwich, where he spent his early years and sang as a tenor in the cathedral choir, Gordon Pullin celebrated the coming of spring in songs that suggested the German romantics were fortunate with the weather but generally unlucky in love.

First came one of the great song cycles. In Robert Schumann's A Poet's Love, the singer grasped every opportunity to convey a huge range of emotions. He did so all the more convincingly because he resisted the temptation to overstate. There were even suggestions that he knew Heinrich Heine, the author of the words, was perhaps not entirely serious even at the worst moments.

So the month of May was greeted with ecstasy tempered by the realisation that not every girl would follow the example of the birds and the bees. A kiss was always sweeter because it might not be followed by many more.

While Pullin found countless variations in vocal tone and tack, John Cooper had an equally important part to play. As his piano accompanist, he was not there just to provide support but helped set the scene at the start and created an extra dimension at the end by adding a musical commentary.

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After Schumann it was Schubert's turn. Five of the earlier composer's spring songs drew attention to his simpler style, his gift for grace and melody and, above all, his preference for exploring just one mood at a time.

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