CIMF review / A concert of style and exhuberance

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Dapper’s Delight… Susanna Borsch and Adrian Brown. Photo by PETER HISLOP

TWO instruments that lend themselves to impromptu and exuberant performances are the hexagon-shaped concertina and the versatile recorder.

Dapper’s Delight is made up of Susanna Borsch and Adrian Brown. Brown plays the concertina, which has been nicknamed the orchestra in a box, and he sings and Borsch plays the recorder, the concertina and sings.

Dance music, songs of love, sea shanties, folk tunes and baroque music are the perfect styles for these entertaining instruments.

The concertina is surprisingly loud and most effective at playing harmony but can add a special touch when making melodies.

The recorder playing by Borsch is amazing to listen to and to watch; her rapid finger movement is astounding. Another reviewer has described her as a player who does not seem to need to breathe.

In the opening dance number, the pair kicked up their heels and had many toes tapping. The duo both sang and played in the 17th-century song called “Once I Loved a Maiden Fair”. Through their effortless playing, it was clear that these two instruments are excellent for telling musical stories of love, dance and even jokes.

A lot of the music in this concert came through a variety of sources from the 16-18 century, but there was also a selection of songs from the English rock bands Traffic and Tempest who produced their music in the 1970s. There were English music hall songs made popular by the Australian singer Florrie Forde who was famous around the 1920s.

The solo recorder songs Borsch performed before the interval showed off her talent for speedy and sentimental playing, while her mellow voice was a nice fit with this early music.

“Ten Thousand Miles Away” is an early sea shanty that referrers to the distance between England and Australia. The duo encouraged the audience to sing along to the chorus and they did. This turned the Fitters Workshop into a music hall, minus the beer, of course. Both players performed on concertinas for this lively sing-along.

Dapper’s Delight know their music well; through the more than dozen songs they performed, they never used sheet music and the recorder has to play many thousands of notes. While there are only two people in this group, they perform in a range of settings and styles. They sang solo and together, and the songs they performed for voice only were particularly effective for that old-world feeling that the music exuded.

For a long song called “Blanket Fair” they performed and danced their way through the entertaining story, which was about the great frosts of 1684 that saw the Thames River in London frozen over for months and the locals created a frost fair where people danced, held horse and coach races and puppet plays.

Dapper’s Delight has been entertaining people the world over and it was such a treat to get to hear these old songs performed with such style and enthusiasm.  


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