Live from the Barbican: Sir Bryn Terfel and Britten Sinfonia
The Barbican’s season of live-streamed concerts kicks off with a gently uplifting programme from Sir Bryn Terfel, accompanied by the Britten Sinfonia. In front of a safely reduced audience, the opera singer takes us on a personal journey from the Bach cantata he performed at his first professional concert, to the music of Ivor Novello and the traditional melodies of Terfel’s native Wales – all from the comfort of our homes, subtitles included.
Ich habe genug is the 82nd of 200 cantatas Bach composed for St Thomas’ Church in Leipzig. Written in 1727, the singer’s world-weary lament “It is enough” is given new meaning in this unusual setting. The rich oboe and strings blend deeply with Terfel’s bass-baritone, his love of the music resonating through the eerily spacious auditorium. A warm, inviting presence, Terfel thanks the Barbican for its “meticulous preparation” and introduces Gerald Finzi’s Let Us Garlands Bring.
A sequence of five musical adaptations of passages from Shakespeare, Garlands was written in 1942 by the British composer for his friend Vaughan Williams’ 70th birthday. The programme remains in wartime for the Ivor Novello section as though mirroring our troubled times – especially for the arts that face ruin up and down the country. Novello’s First World War song Keep the Home Fires Burning is particularly impassioned in this context (or maybe just good advice for the winter months).
Terfel notes his connection to the popular Welsh compositions, a stirring, romantic swell to the arrangements by Iain Farrington rounding out this comforting, personal concert, a balm in a sea of madness. The Live from the Barbican series continues throughout the year, offering world-class concerts without the stress of attendance. It’s not quite the same as being there, but as Bach might say: it is enough.
Photos: Mark Allan/Barbican
For further information about the Live from the Barbican series or to book visit the Barbican’s website here.