FringeReview UK 2019
Yvonne Patrick and John Bruzon performed a ‘Night and Day’ programme at the Chapel Royal with songs by William Lloyd Webber, Debussy, Massenet, Ned Rorem, Samuel Barber, Richard Strauss, Ivor Novello and Cole Porter. In addition Bruzon performed pieces by Liszt and Granados and Patrick an unaccompanied Northumbrian Lullaby.
Yvonne Patrick and John Bruzon performed a remarkably searching ‘Night and Day’ programme at the Chapel Royal
William Lloyd Webber (1914-82) was long known for his sons Andrew and Julian. But as early as 1983 his light orchestral 1944 On the Farm was broadcast on Radio 3 and his reputation – from gifted academic to a n individual voice – has gradually grown. ‘I looked out into the morning’ is one of his best things, a deeply chromatic late-romantic dip into the cobalt of romance. Patrick’s middle range is particularly in evidence here. It’s a haunting song, confirming Lloyd Webber’s gifts and emerging status.
Debussy’s Beau Soir is early and still hyper-romantic, indeed freighted wit bits of Massenet, the next composer here. But early Debussy is full of soaring melodies that nail their memorability more than any derivative piece.
Massenet’s Nuits d’Espange could have been written by Chabrier or even Bizet. It has though the beautifully tailored element that’s a giveaway, pure Massenet whereas those other composers come sided with their own awkward genius. Massenet’s is for memorable neatness, sometimes intensely evocative as here.
Ned Rorem is 96 this year. He remains the great American art song composer, rivalled only by Barber. Hus Parisian-inflected is deeply personal as his famous Journals reveal. ‘Early in the Morning’ is radiant but also neo-classical, manicured by Nadia Boulanger’s classes. It’s still hallucinatory, rapt and memorable.
Barber’s particularly known as a song composer of e.g. Dover Beach or the Hermit Songs (‘Scholar and Cat’ is delightful). One of the most renowned is ‘Sure as the Shining Night’ – a passionate declaration with one of Barber’s more memorable themes.
Bruzon offered as a solo one of his best-known sand-bys. Liszt’s Petrarch Sonnet 47 rises to a singular affirmation but doesn’t journey over harsh terrains as other perorations do. Bruzon relishes the vanishing points of this aspiring work as wel as the sweep, but never overdoes it.
Patrick then confirmed these two solo spots as the heart of the programme with her Northumbrian Lullaby ‘Bonny at Morn’ which was spellbinding, both far more chromatically unusual and sophisticated than you might think, but tangy too.
Richard Strauss sits both artists well. Late Romantic, drenched in that 1890schroamticsm and both inspired by his future wife, though the first is from Strauss’s first collection. ‘Die Nacht‘ is apt and actually clean in its delivery. The next, possibly Strauss’s most famous early song, ‘Morgen’ is the rapturous post-coital poem in fact by the Scottish poet Mackay, from Strauss’s Op 27 and meant as a wedding present to his bride Paulina von Arnim. Its opening chords of pure wonder have never been surpassed for describing the first morning after lovers have come together, either martially or especially in these days, not.
Another solo from Bruzon, the equally ecstatic Granados ‘Maiden and the Nightingale’ made full use of the piano’s tonal depth, and the acoustic allowed as with the Liszt, a tonal bloom that made its climax particularly telling.
Ivor Novello’s songs have perhaps dated more than Noel Coward’s. They’re more clearly romantic but in an Edwardian ambience that somehow adds a wonderful gloss, literally glamour into the piano part. They exude silver screen magic, though their technique and essential melodies are rooted before the First War, though dating mostly after. ‘Waking and Sleeping’ though is quite a gem, with its restless melodic sea-shifts. It’s a wonderful piece from a lesser-known show. ‘Glamorous Night’ wit its memorable refrain also heightens the pianistic glamour – no other word for it as the soprano of Patrick rises above it. Beautifully nailed in the two words that make up the title.
And the encore bringing the title into focus, Cole Porter’s paean to longing ‘Night and Day’ with its ringing top-notes from Patrick, brought the recital to a rousing conclusion. An exemplary, deeply satisfying recital.