The Prince Consort - Ned Rorem (Live) - MusicWeb International

The Prince Consort recently released a CD of Ned Rorem's songs (Linn Records CKD 342) and this concert comprised basically that disk with a new work thrown in for good measure. I must start by saying that I enjoyed these performances much more than the CD - mainly because the singers felt to be more settled with the music and could deliver the songs with a relaxation essential for Rorem's special lyricism.

Each of the singers had a group of songs to themselves and there were four ensemble pieces. Jacques Imbrailo got things off to a fine start with a quite beautiful performance of Early in the Morning, celebrating the delights of Paris and breakfast in a sidewalk café.

Evidence of Things Not Seen is an evening of song in one collection, there are 36 songs for soprano, alto (counter tenor here) and baritone with piano. I would love to hear this piece complete and the three excerpts given here more than whetted the appetite. Leese, Mead and Imbrailo blended their voices together quite beautifully here, as did Leese and Johnston in the new work - a lovely setting of Shakespeare. The two excerpts from the Five Songs of Walt Whitman were given by two different singers and I did wonder why we weren't permitted all five songs. Although Rorem allows for songs from groups or cycles to be performed separately it is frustrating not being given a complete set.

Highlights in this show were Andrew Staples's extrovert performance of The Serpent - a wonderfully crazy poem by Theodore Roethke - Ms Leese's Little Elegy, Mead's Rain in spring and Ms Johnston's Stopping by woods on a snowy evening.

The songs were well chosen and presented in such a way as to give a satisfactory experience to the audience. It is good to hear these young singers taking the time to perform these great songs by a much too little known composer, under appreciatedin this country at least. Alisdair Hogarth's work at the piano was perfection and a great lesson in how to work with singers. One complaint - when not performing the singers were off stage and we had to wait for their entrances. Much better the Songmaker's Almanac's performances where all the performers were on stage throughout the show and simply stepped forward to perform. This made for a better, and smoother, flow of the performance.

MusicWeb International (Live)
18 March 2010