COMPOSERS: Butterworth And Vaughan Williams,Somervell,Walford Davies
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Prospice
PERFORMER: Martin Oxenham (baritone)Katharine Durran (piano)Bingham Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: DUOCD 89026 DDD
Three completely unrelated discs, embracing 73 offerings from the treasury of (mostly) 20th-century English song – and hats off to those whose idea it was to lead us so beguilingly down the musical byways. Prospice is a short cantata by Walford Davies, and it shares its disc with four song cycles for baritone, some accompanied by string quartet. Oxenham’s interpretations are perceptive. He’s relaxed in the more restrained items, but doesn’t lack punch when it’s needed; and his diction is pretty intelligible – more so than Sarah Leonard’s.
Leonard tends to overstress her top notes, but she finds the passion in Frank Bridge and the bluster in Warlock’s ‘Rutterkin’, and she captures all the shifting moods of Howells’s beautiful ‘King David’. Malcolm Martineau’s accompanying is masterly, as is Nigel Foster’s for Georgina Anne Colwell.
Colwell’s voice is brighter-toned than Leonard’s, with plenty of body throughout its range, and her motley programme (25 songs by 15 composers) encompasses rare gems like Coleridge-Taylor’s ‘Lament’ and Armstrong Gibbs’s ‘Why Do I Love?’. Her diction is not faultless, but it is the clearest of the three – which is just as well, as hers is the only insert card not to reproduce the texts. Nor does it provide information about composers and songs as the others do; it merely profiles the singer and pianist. On all three recordings the balance between voice and accompaniment is predominantly well judged. Wadham Sutton