On Sunday, 10th March, we were held spellbound by a rather unusual duo consisting of Sarah-Jane Dale (Soprano) and Andrew Keeping (Classical Guitar). Generally I avoid giving old-established words new meanings or using nouns as adjectives, but this was certainly a fun concert.

Much of the fun came from the material but the artists also contributed greatly as they explored the popular culture of many nations. It was a complex web that was unravelled - the web of folk song.

The term folk song is applied to music that has been evolved from rudimentary beginnings by a community uninfluenced by art music but also to "music which has originated with an individual composer and has been absorbed into the unwritten, living tradition of a community. It is the fashioning and refashioning of the music by the community that gives it its folk character". Serious composers have frequently raided the great treasure-houses of folk song for inspiration for their music. There they have found all the grand human themes, often expressed with pathos or wit, which are part of the lives of ordinary people, especially those who have worked with their hands in the countryside.

The programme on the 10th March acknowledged this relation between the anonymous and the professional musician. Indeed most peasant music would have been lost had not professionals, almost too late, collected it and preserved much of it from extinction. Thus Sarah-Jane Dale and Andrew Keeping's programme had recollections and arrangements from Benjamin Britten, Matyas Seiber, Manuel de Falla, and Villa-Lobos among others. The Guitar brought Mediterranean warmth and fire to this music and the artists themselves brought the audience into their lives by recounting the influences that had shaped their enthusiasms and careers. As she sang, Sarah-Jane Pale's voice and delivery expressed the emotions aroused by the stories she was unfolding and the power and economy which characterizes so much of this music. In this she was ably accompanied by Andrew Keeping. Many of the folk settings were, in fact, his work and it was clear that both artists enjoyed their programme as much as the audience. On a cold, wet winter's day they were happy to share the sunshine and warmth of this delightful music.

David Shavreen.

The next concert of the 2002 Season will be given at 3.30 p.m. on Sunday, 12th May, in the Chiswick Catholic Centre by the Fiorini Piano Trio. They are all Australian artists and will perform an all-Australian programme with works by Andrew Schultz, Rohan Stevenson, Peter Sculthorpe and Chiswick-resident John Carmichael.

More details about Blenheim Concerts