COMPOSERS: Britten; Schumann; boulanger; Wolf; Chausson; Quilter; Lowe; Brahms etc
LABELS: Champs Hill
ALBUM TITLE: Tell Me the Truth About Love
PERFORMER: Amanda Roocroft (soprano), Joseph Middleton (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CHRCD040
Imagine a weekend in four Acts: love kindled, an encounter, consummation, morning after night before, and deception and betrayal. Amanda Roocroft and Joseph Middleton tell the tale in some 30 songs on a beautifully engineered CD, presented in an equally beautiful little Victorian-style photo album.
Prologue and epilogue, framing this artful recital, are both by Benjamin Britten: first, a delicately poised performance of the disc’s title song, the Auden setting ‘Tell me the Truth about Love’; and finally, Britten’s plangent folksong setting, ‘Early one Morning’. In between come treats and rarities: Schumann (from his Frauenliebe und -leben), Schubert (just one), Brahms, Wolf (Italian and Spanish Songbooks) and Strauss. But there is also Lili Boulanger, with a song from her much neglected cycle, Clairières dans le ciel; and Schoenberg’s wonderful ‘Warnung’ – a droll and impassioned warning about a poisoned dog. And then there are some delectable musico-literary partnerships: John Ireland and Aldous Huxley; Frank Bridge setting Keats; Barber with James Joyce, and Aaron Copland with Emily Dickinson.
And the performances? Joseph Middleton is everywhere a sensitive and imaginative accompanist to Amanda Roocroft, whose intimate, emotionally versatile singing is always engaging, even if there are times when her soprano becomes just a little spread and raw at the top.