LABELS: Aeterna AET
WORKS: Songs of the Supernatural (Boyce, Britten, Haydn, Head, Loewe, Purcell, Schubert, )
PERFORMER: Peter Medhurst (bass), Nicholas Durcan (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD 911277 DDD (distrib: Complete Record Company)
Medhurst’s selection is drawn from three distinct areas of the supernatural: the legacy of mythical Greece, ghostly apparitions, and unearthly spirits in nature and legend. We travel through almost four centuries of music from Purcell to Britten, with Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert and Loewe well chosen and represented. This is an impressive but worrying debut recital disc.
Medhurst has a unique and powerful bass sound but he over-articulates his consonants and tries too hard to maintain the lower resonances of his register throughout his voice as a whole. The result is some strain at the top of the voice and, at the other extreme, a tendency to push downwards too heavily. Some wonderful low notes – even a D – available in ‘Der Tod und das Mädchen’ become muddy reverberations in ‘Der Nöck’.
Medhurst shows undoubted musical talent in his arrangement and singing of Silcher’s lyrical ‘Die Lorelei’ and the delightful Michael Head song ably accompanied by Nicholas Durcan. A thorough re-examination of technique should preserve his distinctive bass and release its full potential. Elisse McDougall