THE second week of Lake District Summer Music Festival 2019 opened with a stunning piano recital by the pianist Dominic Degavino, one of the young artists making a debut appearance at this year’s festival, writes CLIVE WALKLEY.

His recital of music by Beethoven, Schumann, Liszt, Debussy and John McCabe was a dazzling display of pianistic virtuosity but informed by a high level of musical understanding. Dominic is certainly a pianist to watch out for.

In contrast, later in the day in the delightful setting of Blackwell Arts and Crafts House, Bowness, we heard an a cappella trio of ladies who sing unaccompanied under the group name Voice. The group came together in 2006 in order to combine their love of early music with the commissioning of new works, especially by female composers. A central thread running throughout their Blackwell programme was the music of the 12th century mystic, composer and philosopher Hildegard of Bingen. Her works were set alongside contemporary pieces inspired by her, all by female composers.

Again, Blackwell’s intimate hall proved an ideal venue for a chamber ensemble of this nature. The programme was entitled How Sweetly You Burn and a strong feature of the performance was the group’s communication with the audience. Smiles were present throughout and the verbal introductions were kept brief but informative. The intensity that flowed through the programme in the music of Hildegard and contemporary settings was relieved by the simplicity of English folk song arrangements and other less serious works.

The singers normally perform from memory, but on this occasion as one of the singers was indisposed her replacement had to use a score. However, this did not detract from the overall performance; her voice blended well with her two companions, and her use of the score was unobtrusive. In the music of Hildegard, she provided a single line drone in support of the upper voices. Musicologists may debate the historical authenticity of this, but for a modern audience it adds colour and atmosphere. However, as no singer, however accomplished, can sustain a single note for two to three minutes without taking a breath, it did mean that the drone could not be continuous and so was less effective. An additional singer would make a continuous drone possible by using staggered breathing technique; or the group might consider introducing an instrumental drone as some similar groups do.

This was enterprising concert, new to LDSM, and much enjoyed by a capacity audience.