Review in Sussex Express (Oct 2014) of Clare's Journey performed at Falmer Church
Saturday was a busy day here as there was also a concert in the evening. Clare’s Journey was
Terence Deadman’s musical settings of the poetry of John Clare (the peasant poet). The concert
featured Stefan Holmstrom baritone, Kevin Starns tenor, Jane Richards mezzo-soprano, Tim Nail
piano and the choir was directed by Shirley Linford. The concert followed Clare’s life from the
publication of his first volume of poetry and society success to the waning of interest in his
work and his increasing bouts of depression which eventually led to his incarceration in a
lunatic asylum. I am told the production was incredibly professional and the musicianship
wonderful, not surprising as some of the performers have worked at Glyndebourne, Grange Park
Opera and Opera Holland Park. The concert series continues with Gabrielle Stevens on classical
guitar on November 15. More details nearer the time.
Review in Musical Opinion (Sep 2014 issue 1500) of Clare's Journey
- Robert Matthew-Walker
This is a fascinating dramatic cantata with words by Trevor Harvey telling the story of John Clare's
90-mile countryside walking 'journey' to seek his home-town of Helpston whilst in a somewhat
confused state of mind, which is worsened as his journey continued until he was recognised and
eventually rescued. It is an intriguing and original concept, and the result is a work that impresses
through the composer's creative honesty and manifest sympathy with the subject. This would be an ideal
work for any self-respecting choral society to mount, perhaps putting it in a programme which includes
Malcolm Arnold's John Clare Cantata for chorus and piano duet - more so in this year, the
bi-centenary of the poet's birth. Those keen to explore the worthwhile byways of contemporary British
music would do well to investigate this finely performed and exceptionally well recorded issue.
Performance of Clare's Journey
- Revd. Ron
The people of Buckden (Huntingdon) had the privilege of hearing this programme in April in the
beautiful parish church of St. Mary's and it was given a tremendous reception. During the whole
weekend all who came were talking about the quality of the event!
The four singers - Yvonne Patrick (soprano), Jane Richards (mezzo-soprano), Kevin Starns (tenor)
and Stefan Holmström (baritone) have all had wide experience singing in such venues as Glyndebourne,
Opera North, European TV, Chichester Cathedral, St. John's Smith Square, Nairobi Cathedral, Sweden -
frequently with internationally known orchestras.
Clare's Journey by Terence Deadman is a new work by a composer steeped in Clare and other poets. He is
known to Society members through earlier works and the CD Eight Song Settings from the Poems of John Clare.
There are five settings of Clare poems linked by dramatic scenes of his remarkable walk from Epping to
Northborough. Terence has woven together words and music which told the story and were a delight to
listen to. The singers dealt with a complex score wonderfully well. Terence has also composed music which
is both appropriate and musically sophisticated. Soprano Yvonne's solo in the Song of the Gypsies
delighted everyone and Stefan continued his powerful and mesmerising performance from the first half
(Swedish and English songs) in This Poetry is of a Noble Kind and other songs.
One of the most poignant songs is the duet of Clare and Patty sung beatifully by Kevin and Jane He doesn't
Know Me and then in real contrast The Drover's Song, sung by all four, is lively and rollicking!
Interspersed in the chrous of The Seasons and Clare's I am. The singers took the parts of
various characters in a convincing way with some movement and excellent projection. Once again Tim Nail
accompanied in a very accomplished manner.
The script and all other lyrics are by Trevor Harvey and were, and will be, much admired and appreciated
by all lovers of Clare's poetry.
Saturday 9th July 6.30pm at Helpston School marquee.
(C) 2011 Revd. Ron
Review on Amazon of Eight Song Settings
A wonderful evocation of John Clare's poetry in both the songs and the spoken poems. Terence Deadman's song settings
are sensitively and evocatively performed by tenor Kevin Starns and pianist Nova Teasdale.
Norma Weller, Peter Moyse and Rodney Lines deliver the spoken poems splendidly. All round this CD
is a treat, for lovers of John Clare's poetry and of the English Song tradition in general. Highly
Janet Ingamells reviews Eight Song Settings
This CD is a joy from start to finish. John Clare's poems come alive through the evocative music of
Terence Deadman and the expressive readings. Deadman sets Clare's word so aptly, matching the observations
and moods of each poem chosen for the CD. Yet the music is never obtrusive and allows the text to shine
through clearly. Both singers - Kevin Starns and Bill Young - have excellent enunciation and there is
always a balance between the voice and the sensitive accompaniment played by Nova Teasdale. For
Little Trotty Wagtail the piano introduces the song with the whythm of the first line, catching
immediately the spirit of fun which pervades this poem. In contrast, there is a feeling of sadness in
the introduction to The Evening Primrose with the image of the sinking and mirroring the dying
of the flower in the morning. In Adieu the falling intervals convey the poignancy of the poem.
It is refreshing to hear readings performed so naturally without the declamatory tone so often used by
professional actors and indeed by poets themselves! Peter Moyse in the reading of Sudden Shower
puts us right in the picture. His own sense of wonderment comes through in Hedge Sparrows which
is a typical example of Clare's close observation of nature. It is not all pretty though, and the cat
sadly gets the sparrow in the end. Peter paints a vivid picture of this moment in the changing modulations
of his voice.
Rodney Lines' voice has a quite different timbre, His interpretation of Langley Bush is very
moving, telling of life's broken hope and dreams. In My Early Home the nostalgia is depicted in
the voice, ruminating that things are not what they were.
The only female reader is Norma Weller whose diction makes her three poems so clear. Indeed, the whole
CD brings silent reading of the page. The only negative comment I have is that it is too short! The
enclosed booklet is a most helpful introduction to John Clare and the poems. I will certainly be giving
the CD to several friends for Christmas and I recommend you to do the same.
- Janet Ingamells
Glenn Rose reviews Clare's Journey
Clare's Journey began (and ended) with The Seasons ... a piece of music almost mediaeval, timeless,
underlining Clare's own identification with rural Englishness. The narrative of the suite takes us
from his discovery by Stamford bookseller Edward Drury to his feting by literary society - and the
fading of fame. A major theme is Clare's naivety and vulnerability. His own poetry is represented
by settings of To Patty, Mary and Childhood. The final piece I Am, was
poignantly set - at least one member of the audience viewed it through misted spectacles.
- Glenn Rose, The John Clare Society Newsletter, October, 2011
Janet Ingamells reviews Clare's Journey
I was fortunate to be at the premiere of this work in Buckden in 2012 and at the second performance
in Helpston at the Helpston Festival later that same year. I am so pleased that there is now this
admirable CD to sustain memory of it.
Terence Deadman has produced a remarkable composition which does not fit into any particular category.
A mixture of narrative, written by Trevor Harvey and several poems, it is an evocation of the journey
from Epping to Helpston. There is sadness but some humour creeps in, for example in The Drovers' Song.
The picture of the gypsies galumphing along to the rhythm of the tango still makes me smile.
Mr Deadman has chosen a strong group of singers who mainly have solos, but who perform the ensembles with
great sensitivity. The accompaniment is provided by piano and harp which seems a strange combination
but which works very well as soon as it is heard near the beginning in the poem, To Mary, creating a
quite magical effect.
The CD is accompanied by an excellent leaflet in which it is stated that the CD is dedicated to Peter
Moyse. The full words are reproduced, together with a short biography of Clare by Rodney Lines and two
pictures of Clare.
- Janet Ingamells, The John Clare Society Newsletter, October, 2013