Monica Whicher has the happy knack of being able to put together interesting and appropriate programmes. Last night’s Remembrance Day concert at Walter hall, with co-conspirators Steven Philcox and Marie Bérard was no exception. It ran about an hour and a quarter without intermission or interruption which created a kind of hushed intensity appropriate to the occasion.
Some of the material was expected. How could there not be a Butterworth/Housman song? But who would expect Peter Maxwell Davies’ Farewell to Stromness; one of the most beautifully elegiac piano pieces I have ever heard and played beautifully by Steven? Along the way there were songs and arias by Handel, Schumann, Gubaidulina, Finzi, Vaughan Willians, Poulenc and others. Poetry by William Blake, Margaret Atwood and Walt Witman. Instrumental pieces by John Williams and Debussy. Monica sang beautifully and, perhaps, read even better. I’ve never heard her read poetry before. I’m glad I have now. Steven and Marie played with moving elegance.
And so it went on until we finished up with Robert Lowry’s How Can I Keep from Singing? with it’s challenge, despite the vagaries of the world, to keep on remembering, choosing and, yes, making music.