Warlock: The Wind from the West; To the Memory of a Great Singer; Take, O Take Those Lips Away; As Ever I Saw

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COMPOSERS: Warlock
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: The Wind from the West; To the Memory of a Great Singer; Take, O Take Those Lips Away; As Ever I Saw
PERFORMER: John Mark Ainsley (tenor)Roger Vignoles (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66736 DDD
At the end of a somewhat uneventful centenary year appeared this truly celebratory recital of 34 of Peter Warlock’s 120 songs. In chronological order, from the earliest Quilter-like ‘The Wind from the West’ to the late, strong Bruce Blunt settings like Fox’, they are sung with the open-eyed directness, uncluttered responses and unprecious, robust direction they have been longing for all their lives. Ian Partridge has been a stalwart tenor champion of many of these songs, but John Mark Ainsley fills a still large gap in the catalogue, and with Roger Vignoles as endlessly sympathetic accompanist, does so generously and beautifully. Bright, indeed, is the ring of words when the right man rings them…

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Ainsley’s early singing experience of 16th- and 17th-century music enables him to substantiate the shadow of this earlier age which hovers through so much of Warlock’s writing. Ainsley and Vignoles also know a thing or two about that fin-de-siècle weariness and harmonic half-light inhabited by Warlock’s Symons settings, and the peculiarly English music of the Belloc songs (‘spirits abroad on a windy cloud…’). Whether you collect tenors, English music or simply good singing, don’t be without this. Hilary Finch