ALBUM TITLE: Parry
WORKS: English Lyrics & other songs, Vol. 1
PERFORMER: Susan Gritton (soprano), James Gilchrist (tenor), Roderick Williams (baritone), Andrew West (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: Somm SOMMCD 257
These songs by Sir Hubert Parry are far from the blockbusting world of his coronation anthem I was glad or the breast-swellingly patriotic Jerusalem. Here, often, is a more light-treading, sentient composer – in the excited palpitations of ‘O mistress mine’, for instance, the charged sensuality of ‘Take, O take those lips away’ or the sharp-etched winter imagery of ‘When icicles hang by the wall’.
All three are Shakespeare settings, sung by James Gilchrist with keen intelligence and a febrile vibrato which not all listeners will find congenial. A hint of shrillness and a habit of scooping up to high notes occasionally impair appreciation of Susan Gritton’s contribution, though ‘Lay a garland on my hearse’ highlights her probing interpretive temperament.
The finest, most technically secure singing in the recital comes from baritone Roderick Williams, whose outstanding diction in no way compromises the evenness and sustained tonal plenitude of his vocal production. His immaculate use of legato in ‘Weep you no more’ is but one of many pleasurable moments in this richly enjoyable CD, the first of three to comprise a complete recording of Parry’s 12 sets of English Lyrics.