WORKS: Five Spenser Sonnets; Amoretti; Four Medieval Latin Lyrics; Sinfonietta
PERFORMER: Martyn Hill (tenor), David Wilson-Johnson (baritone); Endellion String Quartet, City of London Sinfonia/Hans-Hubert Schönzeler
CATALOGUE NO: CDM 5 66936 2 Reissue (1989)
Needless neglect of Rubbra is fast receding, thanks to Hickox’s symphonic series on Chandos and his powerful four quartets (on Conifer). Yet many lovely songs and sacred works still await rediscovery.
This welcome EMI reissue demonstrates that Rubbra rivals Britten, Tippett, Finzi and Howells in word-setting. His texts – medieval Latin lyrics, plus Edmund Spenser’s love-sick Elizabethan sonnets – are enchantment itself, providing an exquisite vehicle for Rubbra’s vivid contrapuntal approach. Martyn Hill lacks some variety, insight and finesse, but Wilson-Johnson is on rollicking form. Sonnets 43 and 89 are magical. Roderic Dunnett