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sea pictures

After rehearsals over the past few months, I took part in a performance of Britten’s ‘Spring Symphony’ last night with the CBSO Chorus at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham.

In this centenary year for Britten (born 1913), it won’t be our last concert performing one of his works.

But the difficulties of the work put alongside the ‘War Requiem’ have made it a particularly rewarding project with which to be involved.

The concert, which is repeated tomorrow evening, also features Elgar’s ‘Sea Pictures,’ which is one of my favourites in the vocal repertoire.

Dame Janet Baker’s 1965 recording with Sir John Barbirolli (EMI Classics), which features on the same disc as the famous Du Pre performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto, is the one I know best.

In last night’s concert, the rising American mezzo soprano Kelley O’Connor had the added challenge of performing the work for the first time.

For any singer, it must be especially difficult to make your own mark on it when you’re following in the footsteps of one of the greats.

But to my ears and going by the audience reception, she took to the piece like …. well, I’ll leave you to fill in the rest.

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Dame Janet Baker – Where Corols Lie from ‘Sea Pictures’

Dame Janet Baker – Sabbath Morning At Sea from ‘Sea Pictures’

CBSO – official website

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