Music in the Great Hall
‘There’s an art to presenting a successful song recital. Last Sunday in Southwell international baritone Mark Oldfield showed how it should be done when he performed his Flights of Fancy and Fantasy programme as part of the Minster’s Music in the Great Hall series.
The title gave Mr Oldfield the chance to weave together characters such as the Greek shepherd Ganymede, Don Juan and Don Quixote, and moments in time and states of mind such as sleep and dream.
This loose but intriguing thread was enough to hold an appreciative audience’s attention through an hour of music – a programme ranging from the quiet introspection and tortured harmony of Peter Warlock’s Sleep to the tempestuous mini-operatic scena that is Tchaikovsky’s Don Juan Serenade.
Mr Oldfield impressed with his interpretations of a wide range of styles and composers – from the English Purcell, Warlock and Vaughan Williams to classic Schubert, romantic Tchaikovsky, and on to Faure and Ravel, ending in America with Samuel Barber, Kurt Weill and Stephen Sondheim.
Throughout there was beauty of line and tone, clear diction – whatever the language (and he sang in four) and always an enthusiastic communication of the dramatic situation behind the song. This was perhaps most evident in the Tchaikovsky, the Ravel Chanson Romanesque and Chanson à Boire and Barber’s Solitary Hotel. The audience’s appreciation was aided by his informal and engaging links and introductions.
Finally in bringing off a successful recital Mr Oldfield chose an ideal pianist partner in Mr Timothy Lole. Mr Lole, helped by the fact that he is a singer himself, was receptive to the mood of each song and was also well in command of the fistfuls of notes which flew by on a number of occasions.
Mr Lole made his own solo contribution with the famous Rachmaninov Prelude in C sharp minor. It was observed that the Hall’s Bechstein Grand, previously at Mansfield Palace Theatre, cannot have received such forceful treatment since it was played there by the late, great John Ogdon.’