Britten: Folksong Arrangements

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Britten
LABELS: Melba
WORKS: Folksong Arrangements
PERFORMER: Steve Davislim (tenor), Simone Young (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: MR 301120

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Thanks to the generosity of the Melba Foundation, the young Australian tenor Steve Davislim has a couple of most handsomely produced new releases as recital repertoire calling-cards, in what is at present a busy operatic career. Both Winterreise and the Britten folksong settings are given a spacious acoustic, and spacious tempos – the latter, alas, to the long-term detriment of the Schubert.

Simone Young plays for Davislim in his generous compilation of 24 of Britten’s folksong arrangements. Again, Davislim reveals a tendency to think that verbal emphasis and holding back the tempo will, ipso facto, increase a song’s expressive intensity when, in fact, the reverse is often the case.

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Both Davislim and Young could trust themselves to approach these songs with greater simplicity. Davislim’s tenor becomes clearer of focus and more at ease in both ‘O waly, waly’ and ‘Tom Bowling’. These are genuinely moving performances – and I like
the sense of dark discomfort he brings to ‘Greensleeves’. Hilary Finch