It’s a tricky drive to Rhosygilwen from Fishguard (as the Irish would say, you’d better start from Cardigan), but it’s so welcoming once you’re there, and this heartwarming two-hander from Jacqui Dankworth and Craig Ogden was overwhelmingly rewarding.
Dankworth arrested us all at the opening with her moving Waly,Waly, her smoky mezzo-soprano delivering this timeless classic with such purity, Ogden’s guitar as attentive as a baroque continuo harpsichordist.
In fact so many of Ogden’s contributions to the duo evoked the textures of baroque or classical figurations, the mere six strings of his instrument coaxed into an almost infinite range of colours.
His accompaniments were amplified to match Dankworth’s soaring voice, but his guitar was allowed to speak on its own terms in two absorbing solo sets, including a Villa-Lobos Choros I authentic in so many respects, and Gary Ryan’s gimmicky and spectacular Rondo Rodeo.
Jacqui Dankworth brought a huge gamut of vocal techniques (only once tempted into a discreet scat) and breath-control — such magically-shaped conclusions! — to her offerings, which included Crazy, Bridge over Troubled Water, Moon River, and Rodgers and Hart’s It never entered my mind, all delivered with the subtlest of concluding inflections before the voice settled on the final note.
Wonderful performances; but for me, and I suspect for many others, the icing on the cake was the duo’s account of Marvin Hamlisch’s The Way We Were, delivered with the dignity of a heartbroken simplicity, reaching out to all of us in this packed audience.