Revisiting Hugh Wood and Laurie Lee

HGS_HughWoodThanks to the Hampstead Garden Suburb Chamber Music Concerts, I had the chance to revisit Hugh Wood‘s wonderful Laurie Lee Songs in performance. Since recording them last year for NMC, I hadn’t sung them live, so I was delighted to be specifically asked to include them in a recent recital. Paul Turner (seen L with Hugh and me) accompanied me, as he did in the very first performance I gave of these songs.

The twin themes of Nature and memory that feature so strongly in Hugh’s songs gave us a direction to pursue in programming the rest of the recital and, in Laurie Lee, a fine poet to match in terms of other lyrics. Being advised that our audience would be a sophisticated lot, we programmed work by Geoffrey Allan Taylor, (including a first performance of his setting of AE Housman’s Into my heart)  and Thomas Hyde‘s settings of Phillip Larkin. We were pleased to have both of these composers at the concert, in addition to HGS regular David Matthews. One composer who couldn’t join us is Martin Bussey, whose song A Church Romance I discovered thanks to Iain Burnside. The narrative of this song was complimented later in the programme by A History of the Thé Dansant by Richard Rodney Bennett: although wildly different in style, these two pieces each tell the story of the poet’s parents’ romance, Thomas Hardy in the first case and MR Peacocke (also the composer’s sister) in the second.

Our thanks to Deborah Calland and Barry Millington for inviting us.