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Britten & Korth

Simple Symphony Op 4 - Benjamin Britten
Like Shining from Shook Foil, for soprano and orchestra - Nicholas Korth
'Luminescence', for tenor, cello and orchestra (world premiere) - Nicholas Korth
Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings Op 31 - Benjamin Britten

Nigel Robson (tenor) Olivia Robinson (soprano) Rollin Rachele (overtone voice) Nicholas Korth (horn) Thomas Carroll (cello) The Orpheus Sinfonia/Michael Thompson

St George's Church, Hanover Square, London May 28, 2013

An overlong Britten centenary concert; one of undoubted interest, but over-demanding for performers and listeners in the smallish audience.

It began brilliantly with Britten's symphony (an unfavourite early work of mine on disc or radio) truly exciting heard live and loud from this eager and accomplished young orchestra in the generous ambience of St George's.

And equally engrossing was the first of two major works by Nicholas Korth, one of our best horn players but unknown to me as a composer; a song cycle to three poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins, put across impressively by Olivia Robinson.

Doubts after the interval. Korth's many-layered and complex 'Luminescence' (the 4th of his Harmoniae Naturales) sets an intractable pair of Keats odes very, very slowly, with string orchestra fronted by Nigel Robson as tenor soloist and Thomas Carroll's cello, supported by the overtone singing of Rollin Rachele (who had studied Indian singing in London at Bhavan). It needs to be heard again.

Korth was wonderful as horn partner in the Britten Serenade (relishing the natural tuning specified for the Prologue & Epilogue solos) but Robson's voice was understandably tired by then, with Peter Pears in everyone's memory...

Peter Grahame Woolf