Review: Songs of the Sea at St Andrew’s Hall

Mark Padmore. Photo: Marco Borggreve

Mark Padmore. Photo: Marco Borggreve - Credit: Marco Borggreve

Friday evening's audience in St Andrew's Hall was moved and entertained by a sequence of words and music on the rich theme of sea and seafarers.

The celebrated tenor Mark Padmore and the excellent baritone Christopher Purves were expertly accompanied by the pianist Julius Drake. Readings - sometimes a little too fast - by the National Theatre actor Simon Russell Beale added a dimension.

The programme moved briskly from Drake's Drum and Jack Tars to Romantic responses to the wonders of the deep and the pleasures of quieter waters. Hardy's marvellous poem about the Titanic and Tennyson's fearsome Kraken made their impression alongside intimate settings by Fauré and Duparc in French and by Brahms and Wolf in German.

Nothing made more impact than the sustained tension in Padmore's hushed interpretation of Schubert's Calm at Sea. With Britten's Tom Bowling bringing us back home, Hely-Hutchinson's Owl and the Pussy Cat for two voices gave us a happy ending.

• Songs of the Sea is part of this year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival. For your daily guide to festival events click here• For all the latest festival news and reviews click here


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