Renowned duo closes Snape Proms

Thomas Allen & Jonathan Papp, Snape Maltings, August 30th A glance at the programme for this song recital provoked thoughts of a visit to some European capitals followed by a few days exploring quiet corners of England, with a quick there-and-back trip to America in the middle.

Thomas Allen & Jonathan Papp, Snape Maltings, August 30th

A glance at the programme for this song recital provoked thoughts of a visit to some European capitals followed by a few days exploring quiet corners of England, with a quick there-and-back trip to America in the middle. The reality proved much less exhausting and environmentally damaging, and immensely satisfying.

Beethoven's songs tend to be overshadowed by his achievements elsewhere but they are of no less quality and the exuberant trills of the piano representing the skylark in Mailied were a sheer joy.

Amongst the Schubert songs Jonathan Papp made the most of the fine modulations in Fruhlingsglaube but Thomas Allen's voice did not seem at its best here, losing power and focus at times. The Schumann songs showed the composer's mastery of the medium and the extrovert Hochlanders Abschied was performed with real �lan.


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Hearing Wolf is one of life's great pleasures - one knows how good he is but he always manages to sound even better. The gloriously happy Fussreise came across wonderfully, both performers capturing the unbeatable joy of the country on a perfect morning. Equally successful, though on a different level, was the rumbustious and amusing Abschied in which a music critic is served summary justice.

The wide range of English composers provided some fine settings, notably Peter Warlock's My Own Country in which Allen got right to the heart of song, showing what a fine musical communicator he is. All songs had their attractions but John Ireland's If there were dreams to sell and Thomas Dunhill's The cloths of heaven made particular impressions. Charles Ives, a real one-off, can never be dismissed and his Tom sails away from Three Songs of War has a highly personal history (his brother was a serving soldier). The appearance, at the end, of the war tune Over There produces a strangely moving, yet unsettling effect.

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After the brilliant orchestral playing of the previous evening here was a complete contrast but equally successful, the power of song amply demonstrated by two of the most distinguished exponents in their fields.

Gareth Jones

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