Tippett & Britten, Crouch End Festival Chorus
Why has nobody paired these works before? So natural was the flow from Tippet's It is spring into the opening of Britten's Spring Symphony that the works could have been made to be paired. All the more thanks therefore to David Temple for bringing to pass what should have been obvious almost half a century ago. Experiencing the works as a pair brings unexpected nuances to both and helps us to see even greater depths in Tippett's early masterpiece A Child of our Time. We quickly dive beneath the superficial narrative line to realise a Jungian depth of paradoxical oppositions. Dark gives way to light, cold to heat, sadness to joy and isolation to friendship. A work stimulated by a specific act of violence takes on a universal appeal whose sense of hope and joy finds resolution in Britten's exultant Spring Symphony.
The forces as ever were drawn from strength with the Festival Chorus glowing with warmth and precision, finely matched by the intensity of the Finchley Children's Music Group. James Oxley has a remarkably English tenor sound but one which finds the humour in the text as well as its lyricism. Grant Doyle and Naomi Harvey were well matched to the score and Susan Bickley was particularly moving in the Tippett. It is hard to think of the Forest Philharmonic Orchestra as a semi-professional band when they play as well as this, and especial praise to the percussion in the Britten.
But above all this was David Temple's evening whose enthusiasm and vigour drove the music as a whole to a heart-warming conclusion. It may have been cold on the barbican walkways as we left but Spring had come hadn't it?
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