Joo Cho and Marino Nahon

Songs to warm a winter evening at Leighton Buzzard Music Club

Those of us who braved the bleak midwinter to attend December’s recital enjoyed an evening of songs by two more talented young performers enticed to Leighton Buzzard by the very clever committee of the LB Music Club. Haverhill in Cambridgeshire run a well respected music competition each year. Singers don’t often win it – but Joo Cho did in 2009 and, as a result, has been prevailed upon to take the stage in the Library Theatre with her very fine accompanist Marino Nahon. Their partnership appeared mature, seamless, as if they’d been playing together for years.

He, of course, only has to play in one language … and did so with an element of theatricality that, personally, I always appreciate in a pianist. At times he hovered over the keyboard like a hunting cat searching out the heart of the music.

Joo Cho, the South Korean singer, moved seamlessly from language to language as well as from style to style, dealing now with the lyricism of french, now the passion of spanish, now the explosive vocal combinations of german. Her soprano voice was as warm and mellow as liquid chocolate, powerful and tender at need.

The songs were grouped into four sections. The three sections in the first half comprised short and delightfully accessible pieces, with a pleasant variety within the little cycles and across them too. We began with Fauré; his luscious, lyrical songs are always favourites of mine. Here were a little suite of five – two of his better known songs sandwiched between three perhaps less well-known. These were followed with five love songs by Brahms, himself  both a lyrical and Romantic German composer. Finally in the first half of the concert we enjoyed a suite by the spanish composer Joaquin Turina (who was new to me). Nahon began this with a spirited piano solo; Joo Cho completed the suite with four songs running a gamut between yearning and passion.

The second half of the concert was given over to Schubert songs, some well-known, some less so; some ‘Troutish’ if I may put it thus, some more dramatic – tending even to the melodramatic – some yearning, some serious. Nobody does angst like Schubert; his passions roil, his heartbeats pound and then … ah! … all fails and we’re suddenly swooping down towards death and doom. What a master of song he was as a composer – and how delightfully his songs were rendered for us by Cho and Nahon.

I was surprised when Mr Phillips told me that singers don’t attract big audiences. Instrumentalists is what people want to listen to, apparently, rather than singers. What an opportunity missed. One may revel in the big guns of an operatic performance – such as the relatively recent Tosca, perhaps, at Milton Keynes theatre – but performances of the quality and intimacy of this recital in Leighton Buzzards’ Library Theatre are rare and precious. Especially so now that we don’t sing in our own parlours any longer, preferring to let X Factor contestants do that for us of an evening.


Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed. BTW - it says the link to Facebook is broken. I dispute that. Click it and see, why not?

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