The afternoon concerts at the Royal Welsh remain a welcome addition to musical life in Cardiff. It’s a warm atmosphere with students and music lovers alike enjoying the Dora Stoutzker Hall.
Ailish Tynan has simply not been enough to our capital. Brief appearances with Welsh National Opera just does not cut it. So it’s an extra delight to welcome her back, this time in this world-class concert venue. Along with accompanist Iain Burnside, they both gave a mesmeric recital filled with some heartfelt moments shared between both performers and listener. A selection of lieder (songs) by Brahms made for a heady Germanic opener. It’s all here: the adoration for nature, the angst and grief and most shocking of all a Spanish song. The opening Nachtgallen schwingen (Nightingales swing) seems to meld joy and pain into an eloquent song, all within a well-formed few minutes.
A selection of songs by Frank Bridge (perhaps most famous for teaching Benjamin Britten) followed in a slight change of tone though some themes still lingered. These Bridge songs have an old-time, folkish charm we expect from English composers and has much more to say on nature and growing older. Tynan here brings masterful evocations to life in a transfixing few moments when harmony and melody match each in each others serenity. A newish work (which could ruffle some feathers) was next: Bingham’s The Shadow Side of Joy Finzi, (wife of the composer Finzi). This “mad song” uses Joy’s word and other sources to create a sizzling piece which rarely lacked in intensity, chilling its manic conception.
Another “mad song” was straight after with no applause inbetween, La belle dame sans Merci by Stanford. Whilst I might have had my fill of this composer with the world premier of his Mass Via Victrix with BBC NOW, here remains an elegant song, much more restrained than the last work. It’s a pretty little affair which makes it hard for him to shake off the “Old English master” stamp he is often labelled with. Finishing with a selection of songs by Greig (sung in German), we saw Tynan acting side come out to play. Even this Norwegian composer can’t escape the clutches of the Germanic lieder style with nods to woods, birds, young love and dreams. Little ticks in the face, uncertain side eye flickers and a merry sensibility were standard reactions from Tynan, here in her element bringing these curious songs to life. Burnside makes an exceptional accompanist, playing here with a mighty presence, a true duo act with this glorious Irish singer who does not come here often enough.
A famous encore by Arne was enough for me to melt into a puddle of bliss. What could be a better way to end this little recital concert?