ALBUM TITLE: No Exceptions No Exemptions: The Great War in Song
WORKS: Songs by Magnard, Butterworth, Prokofiev, Delius, Stephan, Coles, Farrar, Milhaud, Browne, Kelly, Keel, Bainton, Dale, Debussy, Head, Roussel, Vellones, Bliss, Gurney, Caplet and Ives
PERFORMER: Robin Tritschler (tenor), Malcolm Martineau (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD 401
This two-CD set was designed for the commemoration of the start of the First World War in 1914, but not in any narrow sense. A wide variety of composers is explored, including some who died directly as a result – to pick just a few names Albéric Magnard, George Butterworth, Ernest Farrar, Cecil Coles and Rudi Stephan are all sampled, the last providing the biggest piece with his intricate song-cycle Ich will dir singen ein Hohelied, a small gem of late Romantic Lieder. The German Stephan also reminds us that the musicians of many participating nations were directly affected by the war – there are also works here by French, Russian and US composers alongside the British. Poetry from the period is set alongside much older verse in some cases.
Together with his superb pianist partner Malcolm Martineau, the Irish tenor Robin Tritschler proves an expert guide to all this material. His linguistic and vocal skills combine to splendid effect in subtly colouring such fine (and little known) songs as Prokofiev’s Trust Me, as well as the bitterly angry Debussy song Noël des enfants qui n’ont plus de maison, and it’s good to be reminded of such minor but genuine talents as those of composers such as André Caplet, Pierre Vellones and Michael Head. Tritschler’s technical and expressive skills combine throughout to bring out the best in the words as well as the music. No weak spots, but eloquent highlights in individual items by Frederick Keel, Ivor Gurney, and Charles Ives.