Vaughan Williams: The House of Life; Songs of Travel; Four Poems by Fredegond Shove; Linden Lea

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COMPOSERS: Vaughan Williams
LABELS: gmn.com
WORKS: The House of Life; Songs of Travel; Four Poems by Fredegond Shove; Linden Lea
PERFORMER: Stephen Roberts (baritone); Roger Vignoles (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: GMNC 0110
Stephen Roberts was an early recruit to GMN’s impressive stable of artists which it promised it would record and webcast. This CD is his first solo recital for the company to be issued in the traditional format, and very good it is. Roberts is the perfect English baritone, blessed with a natural affinity for these songs. In the six sonnets of The House of Life, he relishes the ripe, idyllic Romanticism of Rossetti’s words – or, in the case of the imposing, funereal ‘Death in Love’, their fiercer, darker ardency – investing a wide range of colour and dynamic in the music. He is equally at home in the better-known Stevenson settings, the Songs of Travel, tramping along defiantly in ‘The Vagabond’, musing gently in ‘Let Beauty Awake’, mourning regretfully the forsworn love in ‘In Dreams’, and so on. And finally, he negotiates the Four Poems by Fredegond Shove, ranging from the deeply philosophical to the devout to the rustic and innocent, with a fine understanding. At the piano Roger Vignoles is very much the equal partner, which is just as Vaughan Williams’s often surprisingly challenging writing demands. Stephen Pettitt

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