Mudcat Café message #3201631 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #139059   Message #3201631
Posted By: nutty
04-Aug-11 - 10:41 AM
Thread Name: BBC Proms
Subject: RE: BBC Proms
Today's Guardian Review ......

Prom 25: Northern Sinfonia/Kathryn Tickell Band/BBC Singers review
Royal Albert Hall, London

Guy Dammann, Wednesday 3 August 2011 14.25 BST

It doesn't take long to fall in love with Percy Grainger. An hour should do it, especially when, as here, the 50th anniversary of the Australian composer and arranger was celebrated in a manner only the Proms could pull off. The excellent Northern Sinfonia, resident ensemble of the Sage Gateshead, occupied half the stage, leaving the rest to Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell, the evening's curator, her four-man ensemble, five a cappella brothers from Teeside called the Wilson Family, and the BBC Singers who, as Tickell explained, just happened to be in the area.
Then June Tabor took to the stage to sing Green Bushes unaccompanied.
The hall suddenly felt quite empty. As if sculpted from the earth, Tabor's voice resonates with ancient calm, both consoling and unmanning its listener. Like many great folk songs, Green Bushes expresses neither joy nor sadness, but something far more immanent. Tabor's voice is like that, too. It just is.
Green Bushes and Shallow Brown, which Tabor sung later to similarly devastating effect, is of course not by Grainger, but he collected both songs along with hundreds of others. The magic of this late-night Prom came from hearing the folk arrangements alongside more traditional settings. What emerged was the unrestrained daring of Grainger's ear, and the profound musical respect for the material, attending to the wandering ambiguities and stark realities of the originals. There is nothing patronising about his "use" of folk songs, because they are so clearly born of love.
Grainger fantasised about bringing together diverse forces for his Scotch Strathspey and Reel, including deep-sea sailors "miraculously endowed with the gift of polyphonic improvisation". The Wilson Family and their less hirsute partners in the BBC Singers possess this gift, and their combination with the orchestra for Grainger's exuberant concoction, conducted by the saxophonist John Harle, made for a wonderful finale.