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James Gilchrist and Anna Tilbrook

Manchester Chamber Concerts Society

RNCM Concert Hall, 9 November 2015

Anna Tilbrook. Photo by Nobby Clarke.”width= Anna Tilbrook. Photo by Nobby Clarke.

This was a concert of songs, James Gilchrist the tenor and Anna Tilbrook accompanying him on piano.

We heard Robert Schumann’s Liederkreis (1840), 12 Joseph von Eichendorff poems set to music, at first. Lyrics were by turn melancholy, passionate, sinister, discordant, exultant, fearful, joyous, obscure with mystery. Rather Rilkean in flavour, an’ all, a few of them: Mondnacht, Schone Fremde, Im Walde (say).

The second work we heard was Songs of Travel (1902-1904), Ralph Vaughan Williams’s setting of 9 poems by the great Robert Louis Stevenson, and it too was quite sublime. They were defiant and stoical, with something of the quality of Kipling’s sestina about a tramp-royal, these poems. This was true of The Vagabond and ‘I have trod the upward and the downward slope’ in particular. These two writers (to digress a bit), for all their difference of outlook, used language that was poetic yet idiomatic. And they wrote everything: poems, novels, stories, memoir, essays…

To the interval, and then to the end, we had a different poet yet heard Schumann’s music again, his Dichterliebe (1840), a whopping 16 poems by Heinrich Heine. Our tenor and pianist wanted to end the concert on a high, that’s my guess. I cannot think why else we had songs with lyrics by Heine, music by Schumann.

Details of forthcoming MCCS concerts can be found here.

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