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James Rutherford, with Eugene Asti at the piano, here records his first disc for BIS, presenting a programme of works from composers all influenced greatly by the First World War.
George Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad takes texts from A.E. Housman’s poems of young men facing death.
Vaughan Williams turned to poems by Robert Louis Stevenson, for his Songs of Travel, a set of nine songs in which the wanderer-narrator philosophically accepts the mixture of joys and sorrows offered to him along the road.
Gurney – the youngest of the three composers – was also a poet, and in Severn Meadows expressed his longing for home in both text and music. Severn Meadows was composed during Gurney’s time in the trenches.
George Butterworth: Bredon Hill and Other Songs
No. 1. Bredon Hill
No. 2. O Fair enough are Sky and Plain
No. 3. When the Lad for the Longing Sighs
No. 4. On the Idle Hill of Summer
No. 5. With Rue My Heart is Laden
Ivor Gurney: In Flanders
Ivor Gurney: Severn Meadows
Ivor Gurney: Even Such Is Time
Even Such Is Time
Ivor Gurney: By a Bierside
By a Bierside
George Butterworth: 6 Songs from A Shropshire Lad
No. 1. Loveliest of Trees
No. 2. When I was one-and-twenty
No. 3. Look Not in My Eyes
No. 4. Think no more, Lad
No. 5. The Lads in their Hundreds
No. 6. Is My Team Ploughing?
Ivor Gurney: The Twa Corbies
The Twa Corbies
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel
No. 1. The Vagabond
No. 2. Let Beauty Awake
No. 3. The Roadside Fire
No. 4. Youth and Love
No. 5. In Dreams
No. 6. The Infinite Shining Heavens
No. 7. Whither Must I Wander?
No. 8. Bright Is the Ring of Words
No. 9. I Have Trod the Upward and Downward Slope
Ivor Gurney: 5 Elizabethan Songs (text by J. Fletcher)
5 Elizabethan Songs: No. 4. Sleep
15th August 2012
“The quality of the Gurney songs may be a bit uneven, but Rutherford handles them all with great tact, his tone fined down, his diction immaculate, and without a hint of extraneous pathos. In the authentically great Butterworth sets Rutherford's approach is exemplary.”
“Rutherford's full tone, dark, possibly bass-baritone rather than BIS's designation of baritone, is released with the vigour to resemble somebody, here the vagabond, striding purposefully along the lane...Asti's playing gels with Rutherford's singing in these Gurney songs, as it does in the other pieces...Rutherford's enunciation is all one could wish for.”
“A hefty bass-baritone in every sense, he's inevitably compared with Bryn Terfel, but his voice seems darker and somewhat smoother, less given to pianissimi but still expressive...Songs of Travel has a notably virile energy, reinforced by veteran accompanist Eugene Asti's unusually driven reading...A very worthwhile recital.”
“Rutherford brings his Wagnerian bass-baritone to bear on the song repertoire with uncommon skill and sensitivity...The only serious drawback comes at the top of the voice, where Wagnerian bluster and a slow vibrato sometimes detract from the beauty of his singing...but Rutherford has given notice of a very appreciable talent for song. With accompaniments of exemplary precision, this disc is highly recommended.”
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