COMPOSERS: Britten,etc,Mendelssohn,Purcell,Rr Bennett,Stanford,Vaughan Williams,Warlock
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: An Evening Hymn
WORKS: Songs by Purcell, Mendelssohn, Stanford, Vaughan Williams, RR Bennett, Warlock, Britten,
PERFORMER: Oliver Lepage-Dean (treble); Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge/Christopher Robinson (piano); Christopher Whitton (organ), Graham Walker (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.557129
The novelist Simon Raven held that the merit of beauty resides in its transience. Borrowed no doubt from one of his beloved Latin authors, the thought seems especially apt in the case of the treble voice, a kind of Platonic form expressed in the earthly body of the male chorister, of which Oliver Lepage-Dean was, until only recently, an audible manifestation of the ideal.
Even so, in saving the echo of his voice for posterity, it was wise of the compilers to include a tranche of secular pieces alongside standard repertoire that includes Purcell’s An Evening Hymn and Stanford’s Magnificat in G. For, whether in Richard Rodney Bennett’s song cycle The Aviary, Britten’s ‘O waly waly’, or Gershwin’s ‘Love walked in’, it shows this sublime vocal medium as a vehicle for more varieties of experience than just the religious, and paradoxically reinforces in the face of threats to its institutional existence the unique artistic value of the treble voice, so vigorously defended in the booklet notes by the late George Guest.
Though not always entirely pure-toned, Lepage-Dean’s particular vocal qualities are superbly controlled in their diction and phrasing, not least in songs by Ireland and Warlock, accompanied with unobtrusive sensitivity by Christopher Robinson. Nicholas Williams