Songs by Britten, Gounod, Debussy and Strauss (McKail / Kynoch)
23 October 2009, 20:00
This event will be broadcast from Jacqueline du Pré Music Building
Britten - On This Island
Poulenc - Fiancailles pour rire
Songs by Gounod, Strauss and Walton
Both of tonight’s song cycles (Poulenc’s Fiançailles pour rire and Britten’s On This Island) represent some of their respective composer’s finest output, both setting poets with whom they were personally acquainted (Louise de Vilmorin and W. H. Auden). Neither has a clear theme (Pierre Bernac described Fiançailles pour rire as “a series of vignettes”) but both hang together wonderfully as larger-scale works and are enduringly popular parts of the canon.
Charles Gounod could rightly be considered the father of French song and tonight’s concert opens with a selection of his beautifully lyrical songs, all of which show a composer with a perfect sense of balance and melody. Richard Strauss once claimed that he could paint anything with music and his songs, some of the most overtly expressive in the repertoire, clearly support this claim.
Rhona McKail recently graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama Opera Course and has immediately landed a lead role with British Youth Opera. At the 2008 Lieder Festival she stepped in at short notice to replace Lisa Milne (with Rowan Hellier and Mark Stone) and impressed the Oxford Lieder audience with her stunning voice and natural communication. She is gaining a particularly strong reputation for her interpretation of French repertoire. Rhona is joined by pianist Sholto Kynoch, artistic director of the Oxford Lieder Festival.