ALBUM TITLE: All You Who Sleep Tonight: Song Cycles
WORKS: Out of Winter; Cut My Shadow; Ariel; All You Who Sleep Tonight
PERFORMER: Claire Booth (soprano), Patricia Bardon (mezzo-soprano), Nicky Spence (tenor); Andrew Matthews-Owen (piano)i
CATALOGUE NO: 8.573080
Elan, intelligence and passionate engagement: Scottish tenor Nicky Spence brings it all to his exemplary performance of Out of Winter, the opening cycle on this disc of songs by Jonathan Dove. Spence’s enunciation of the text (by the late Robert Tear, in response to Britten’s Winter Words) has crystal clarity, while his singing runs the full gamut from the aching lyricism of Song I to the elated peroration of Song VI’s conclusion.
Andrew Matthews-Owen is an immaculate accompanist, showing a particularly clean pair of fingers in the dashing virtuosity of Song III. Dove’s settings are acutely sensitive to word and situation, through-composed in operatic fashion, with meaning dictating structure, rather than vice versa. The cycle as a whole deserves wide exposure in recital.
The unaccompanied Ariel, setting five movements from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, is like opera without the orchestra, and soprano Claire Booth shows a technical accomplishment comparable to Spence’s in meeting its many challenges.
The pithy slices of life in the 13-song All You Who Sleep Tonight (texts by Vikram Seth) also have many moments of interest, though perhaps don’t cohere quite so convincingly as a sequence. Still, this is a richly stimulating recital. Terry Blain