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COMPOSERS: BrittenFinziTippett
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Britten, Finzi & Tippett
WORKS: Who are these children?; Sechs Holderlin-Fragmentet; Um Mitternacht
PERFORMER: Mark PadmoreRoger Vignoles
As pianist Roger Vignoles says in his


notes to this disc, there need be no

prizes for guessing the theme that links

Tippett’s Boyhood’s End with Finzi’s

A Young Man’s Exhortation and

Britten’s Who are these children?. But

one of the things that makes this

disc so enjoyable and stimulating as

a complete recital is the differences

in perspective between these song

cycles. Who are these children? pursues

Britten’s life-long preoccupation

with threatened and finally destroyed

innocence, but his Hölderlin Fragments

offer at least a hint of spiritual

consolation, while the perennially

more positive Tippett holds out hope

that, in its best sense, innocence can

survive the transition to manhood. Finzi is more resigned and bittersweet,

but he too offers the possibility that

one can make peace with mortality.

Mark Padmore and Roger Vignoles

perform all these songs with great

understanding and sensitivity; in fact

I was surprised at how much intensity

of feeling they found in the stark

Hölderlin songs. Padmore is equally

at ease with the minutely expressive

wordsetting of the Britten songs and

the long soaring lines of the Tippett.

I’m not quite so convinced by his Finzi

– warm, worldly nostalgia doesn’t

seem to suit him quite as well as the

somewhat harder truths of Britten and

Tippett – but the sense of progression

is compelling, with the solitary late

masterpiece Um Mitternacht making a

wonderful, if slightly unsettling finale.


Stephen Johnson