S&H Concert Review

Copland 100th Anniversary Concert Nash Ensemble/Lionel Friend, Barbara Bonney with Malcolm Martineau, Wigmore Hall 14 November 2000-11-15

A packed Wigmore Hall audience enjoyed this centennial tribute to Aaron Copland (November 1900 - December 1990) who had become a welcome regular visitor to London in his latter years, pursuing a successful second career as a conductor, here usually with the LSO. His Appalachian Spring was given in its original chamber scoring to finish this celebratory concert, with Philippa Davies' flute especially evocative of this romantic picture of Pennsylvanian springtime. She had begun with a tender performance of the far too rarely played Duo (1971) partnered by John Lenehan. Quiet City was remarkable for John Wallace's quiet virtuosity on trumpet, doing miracles of tonal control with repeated single notes.

Central in the programme, which was broadcast live, was a rapt and deeply moving performance of the Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson, spare, luminous settings of extraordinary, optimistic poems about life and death from this unique, reclusive American poet. Barbara Bonney was in fine voice and missed never a nuance in these subtle songs of 1950, Copland's only extended setting for solo voice.

Barbara Bonney has recorded the Dickinson songs on Decca 455 511-2DH with Andre Previn, and in my collection I treasure the version by Roberta Alexander with Roger Vignoles Etcetera KTC 1100.

Peter Grahame Woolf

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