Quilter, Gurney, Keel, Elwyn-Edwards, Vaughan Williams, Somervell, Head, Britten, Warlock, Parry, Dunhill & Stanford

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Britten,Dunhill & Stanford,Elwyn-Edwards,Gurney,Head,Keel,Parry,Quilter,Somervell,Vaughan Williams,Warlock
LABELS: DG
ALBUM TITLE: Silent noon
WORKS: Songs by Quilter, Gurney, Keel, Elwyn-Edwards, Vaughan Williams, Somervell, Head, Britten, Warlock, Parry, Dunhill & Stanford
PERFORMER: Bryn Terfel (bass-baritone), Malcolm Martineau (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 474 2192
This collection of British songs is a successor to the hugely successful The Vagabond of 1995. That included two of Butterworth’s cycles to Housman’s Shropshire Lad poems: this has Arthur Somervell’s substantial set, harmonically unadventurous but melodically persuasive. The rest of the programme is rather more bitty this time, though there’s one complete set of Quilter’s tuneful Shakespeare settings and all three of Frederick Keel’s hearty Saltwater Ballads. It would have been good to have more than single well-known songs by Gurney, Parry and Warlock, and more than the title song and ‘Linden Lea’ by Vaughan Williams. But Dilys Elwyn-Edwards’s lovely setting of Yeats’s ‘The Cloths of Heaven’ comes off well in comparison with the familiar one by Thomas Dunhill, and two of Stanford’s parodistic settings of Edward Lear make an attractively offbeat ending. Bryn Terfel sings throughout with his trade-mark attention to words and meaning, a strong sense of line, and a huge range of colour, from flat-out declamation to an intimate half-voice. Just occasionally his big operatic manner seems to me a little overwhelming for the context; and, while I’m quibbling, I also find the excellent Malcolm Martineau recorded just too close for an ideal balance. But this disc will be self-recommending to fans of the singer and of the repertoire, and it certainly shows a great singer at pretty much the height of his powers. Anthony Burton

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