John Potter’s ‘Amores Pasados’

John Potter bridges the gap between ‘art song’ and ‘pop song’.

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Banks,Campion,Moeran,Sting & Jones,Warlock
LABELS: ECM
ALBUM TITLE: Amores Pasados
WORKS: Works by Campion, Warlock, Moeran, Banks, Sting & Jones
PERFORMER: John Potter (voice), Anna Maria Friman (voice, hardanger fiddle), Ariel Abramovich, Jacob Heringman (lute)
CATALOGUE NO: ECM 481 1555

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John Potter says this project aims to bridge the gap between ‘art song’ and ‘pop song’. It achieves this very well. Alongside 16th and 17th-century originals the programme includes transcriptions by composers from last century (Warlock, Moeran) and new settings by rock-stars Tony Banks (Genesis) of lyrics by Thomas Campion, John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) of Spanish poems from across the centuries and Sting, who released an album of Dowland songs in 2006 and here sets a poem of his own.

Jones’s three-song set, Amores Pasados, was originally written for Red Byrd a quarter-century ago. It has worn well and still charms, both in the ardent Iberian tinge of ‘Al Son de los Arroyuelos’ and ‘So Ell Encina’ and the austere plainchant-inspired ‘No Dormia’. Moeran’s and Banks’s pieces sit particularly well together because of their quirky harmonic progressions.

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We should no longer be surprised at musicians and singers crossing boundaries (though, by and large, rock musicians’ ‘classical’ works convince more than classical singers’ attempts at pop and rock). Potter and Friman especially are old hands at category-crunching, and, as ever, make it work through the integrity of their performances, as true to themselves as to the music, supported by lovely playing from the lutenists. Barry Witherden