The Blenheim Music Circle’s Concert Series

David Shavreen reviews Baritone Richard Latham

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The next concert in this 20th Anniversary Season will be given at 3.30 p.m. on Sunday, 15th July, in the Chiswick Catholic Centre, 2 Duke’s Avenue, by Amy Dickson (Saxophone) and Catherine Milledge (Piano).

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On 20th May the Blenheim Concert was given by Richard Latham, Baritone, accompanied on the piano by Richard Shaw.

Rudyard Kipling once remarked that all literature could be reduced to seven tales extracted from the human condition, the rest being merely artistic embellishment. And so it is with song which takes, as one theme, Man’s encounters with Woman and embroiders it magnificently with the magic power of verse and voice. In this case Richard Latham had to use his musical wits to present the trials of love in four different languages and he rose magnificently to the challenge, supported by the sensitive playing of his accompanist on his fourth visit to Blenheim Concerts.

The Recital began with Handel in his most operatic mood painting the pangs of love with Italian fervour as a battle-piece with Cupid as the enemy and flight as the only safe course.

There followed Robert Schumann’s Liederkreis in which the composer lived again the storm and stress of his love for Clara Wieck, his future wife, In the face of her father’s fierce opposition, transforming the poetry of von Eichendorff into sound pictures of joy and pain as exemplified by the standard Romantic images of nightingales, moonlight, witches and woods, horns and hounds, and fatal enchantments.

After the interval the language was French and the composer Duparc whose tiny legacy of song has entranced singers by the subtle interplay of voice and piano. We had four of the twelve songs, two of hope and two of despair.

The final group of songs was English, settings by Roger Quilter of poems by Robert Herrick, the Metaphysical poet, whose verses dance and smile as they seek to express domestic love in exuberant metaphor.

All these were presented in a clear, tuneful voice with easy mastery of diction and phrasing - a remarkable performance for a young singer, ably supported on the piano.

David Shavreen

June 8, 2007

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