Bromsgrove Concerts and the Housman Society combined on Friday evening for a son et lumiere evening devoted to the great local-boy poet’s A Shropshire Lad poetry-cycle.
All 63 poems of this work with an outreach stretching world- and war-wide were delivered, either in musical settings, or in recitation by the recital’s baritone soloist, James Rutherford. And all the while there was a backdrop of evocative images photographed by Gareth Thomas.
Add to this the vivid, supportive pianism of the vastly experienced and nuanced Simon Lepper, and here was a concert which promised much.
It could have promised more. The proportion between song and poetry favoured the latter heavily, and the selection of composers (EJ Moeran, Graham Peel, Painswick’s own CW Orr, and John Ireland) was very exclusive. No Vaughan Williams, no Somervell, no Butterworth, no many others. And not to offer a musical setting of “Is my team ploughing?” was sacrilegious.
Illness (I was the one with the unsuppressable cough) prevented me from staying throughout, but what I did hear confirmed to me what a warm-toned, genial and intelligent interpreter is Rutherford (with his own clear, honest recitations), and what an unobtrusive but indispensable presence is Simon Lepper at the piano.