TONY COOPER Snape Maltings


> Snape Maltings

Stephen Layton, who founded this group in 1986 for a concert in King's College, Cambridge, has nurtured and trained this group to an exacting and very high standard in a wide-ranging and challenging repertoire.

On this occasion, they turned their attention to Benjamin Britten and Percy Grainger.

It proved to be a nice coupling.

Accompanied by Michael Hampton on piano, they opened with a set of seven well-known folksongs arranged by Grainger that included Early One Morning, O Mistress Mine and Brigg Fair. They then immediately won over the audience with a wonderful rendering of Ye Banks and Braes.

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This was followed by Jonathan Lemalu (the guest soloist) projecting his very rich and expressive bass-baritone voice in a stunning solo set of three pieces by Britten: Miller of Dee, Salley Gardens and a very short, amusing piece, Crocodile.

In his second solo set, he revelled in singing Britten's setting of the Foggy, Foggy Dew and delighted the packed house with an intricate and tuneful rendering of Oliver Cromwell along with a favourite of so many community singing groups the Lincolnshire Poacher.

Britten's Five Flower Songs showed a more serious side, sung effortlessly by 24 singers in their prime who – accompanied by members of the Scottish Ensemble – gave a thoughtful and passionate reading of the Beaches of Lukannon and brought the curtain down with an intense and moving performance of Shallow Brown.

The long silence that followed added extra poignancy and when Layton put his baton down, the audience roared. They demanded an encore and got it: Ye Banks and Braes. It had to be!

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