Butterworth Festival: Gala Concert in Silk Hall
not often I find myself at a Classical music concert hosted at Radley, but this
one seemed too good to miss. I knew little of Butterworth before Thursday night
but felt compelled to find out more. The concert began with a short
introduction given by award winning film-maker John Bridcut (OR) about
Butterworth and his short but very influential experiences at Radley, before
his sad death in the August of the first Battle of the Somme.
first two pieces, Two Idylls for Orchestra, were played by the Radley Orchestra
and conducted by Mr Clarke. Each began with a jaunty oboe tune that moves into
a rich passage with the strings at the fore. However, in the second, the scene
is darker and towards the end there is a solo violin. These pieces are typical
of Butterworth’s style as he takes elements from several English folk songs.
came pieces including a six song cycle sung by baritone Johnny Herford from AE Housman’s
‘ A Shropshire Lad’ and a piece entitled ‘Love blows as the Wind Blows’. Both
were sung beautifully and accompanied gracefully; we heard two more stories of
Butterworth’s prowess and involvement with other composers such as Vaughan
Williams. The culmination of this grand concert came with Butterworth’s final
unfinished piece. We were told he had left it on his desk before he left for
France and although some have later tried to finish it, it seemed only right to
play it in its original form. The piece began with a dark-coloured opening on
bassoons and divided violas and cellos. It then built up into a vivace section
on the trumpets of only a few bars, before the music suddenly stopped and the
lights went out.
symbolism of this abrupt ending to such a fragmented piece, holding such
promise just before it stopped, was dazzling as we sat in the black and silent
Silk Hall. It had been a thoroughly astonishing experience and one that I would
recommend to all who have the chance to see it at some point in the future.
Report by James Maidment, C Social 6.1
Pictured below: Hannah Fraser-Mackenzie OR (soprano)
Some of these pieces and Songs were being premiered this very evening; others were written by Butterworth during his time as a Music don at Radley in 1909/10, when he set up the Radley Choral Society and lived at the Lodge.
Butterworth Gala Concert