Rochdale Town Hall, November 2008


Rochdale Music Society used our own magnificent town hall as a concert venue. It was a brave decision that worked well and gave us a memorable concert experience.

International classical guitarist Morgan Szymanski opened with Grand Overture Opus 61 by Giuliani, a charming piece from 1809 which served to tune us in to this quieter intimate sound world. Later he played solo works by Tarrega, Albeniz and Alec Roth that demonstrated that he is a player of the first rank.

His special guest was tenor Mark Padmore and together they performed lute songs by Dowland which were exquisite. We normally associate Lieder by Schubert with piano accompaniment but they were often performed as here, with guitar. Both composers came off the page beautifully, the mellifluous guitar complementing the finely modulated English tenor voice.

Collaboration between these two fine musicians was superb in works by Rochdale-born composer Alec Roth who introduced the items himself. The song cycle Chinese Gardens, the song Dark Night, and a set of English folk song arrangements, the latter dedicated to the sponsor of this evening’s concert, Mrs Jane Devaney who was present. The delicacy of construction and careful incorporation of exotic themes, be it South American or Chinese, and meticulous word setting give Alec Roth’s music an accessible and distinctive voice.

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