Tippett: The Rose Lake; The Vision of St Augustine

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LABELS: Conifer
WORKS: The Rose Lake; The Vision of St Augustine
PERFORMER: John Shirley-Quirk (baritone)LSO & Chorus/Colin Davis, Michael Tippett
CATALOGUE NO: 75605 51304 2
This disc neatly encapsulates the two extremes of Tippett’s style. The Vision of St Augustine, here in a performance filling the remaining void in CD transfers of the first generation of recordings of his music, combines outward simplicity with his most opaque word-setting. The Rose Lake, his self-declared last work, is a beautiful summation of his Indian Summer return to Midsummer Marriage-like lyricism. The Rose Lake, premiered by the LSO and Davis during the 1995 celebrations to mark the composer’s ninetieth birthday, is a purely orchestral evocation, in Tippett’s typically translucent style, of a lake in Senegal, which he imagines singing as the sunlight changes its colour through the day. The work is here beautifully recreated by its original performers.


The hard edges of The Vision of St Augustine seem to have softened in the imagination over the years since this recording first appeared on LP. Its strenuous vocal writing expresses something of the ecstasy of the saint’s visions but can also sound wearing at times. Nonetheless, with Shirley-Quirk’s refined delivery of the solo part and with the composer’s assured control, this is a ‘must have’ for any Tippett follower. The sound, though, is typical early Seventies in its unnatural spotlighting of different musical strands. Matthew Rye