Collection: O Sweet Woods

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Corkine,Dowland
LABELS: Metronome
WORKS: Lovesongs & sonnets of Donne and Sidney set by Dowland, Corkine
PERFORMER: Paul Agnew (tenor)Christopher Wilson (lute, theorbo)
CATALOGUE NO: MET CD 1006 DDD

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The new classical label Metronome presented its credentials, so to speak on St Valentine’s Day, with the launch of this disc. The date was appositely chosen to reflect this recital of lovesongs and sonnets by John Donne and Philip Sidney. Agnew and Wilson have chosen settings by various composers, two of whom, Dowland and Morley, are comfortably on an artistic level with the two great love poets whom they graced with melody.

Would that such an even-handed partnership of text and music had been a commoner occurrence in the period which followed, for it is this quality that makes these songs so irresistibly charming and distinctly memorable. Agnew’s voice is pleasing, his declamation natural and his responses sensible to the requirements of text and music. There is little in the way of tiresome, self-conscious artifice and only an occasional suggestion of huskiness in the voice.

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Dowland and Morley need no further encomiums from me, their reputations are established. But it is Messrs Anon who have turned in some of the loveliest pieces here. If I had to choose one it would be the setting of Donne’s ‘Goe and catch a falling star’. The excellent recorded sound, and exemplary booklet add up to a winner. Nicholas Anderson