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This programme offers a vivid and varied cross-section of English song, ranging from the Edwardian aesthetic of Quilter and early Vaughan Williams to the intensely expressive style of Howells and Finzi. The Purcell realisations by Britten and Tippett, meanwhile, are products of two great 20th-century composers engaging with their musical heritage. In all these different styles, Bejun Mehta shows the same verbal and vocal mastery that won such acclaim for his debut Handel recital on harmonia mundi.
Herbert Howells: King David
Roger Quilter: It was a lover and his lass
Ivor Gurney: Down by the salley gardens
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Silent Noon
Henry Purcell: Lord, what is man?
Henry Purcell: Job's Curse
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Linden Lea
Roger Quilter: Come away, death
Roger Quilter: O mistress mine
Roger Quilter: Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Gerald Finzi: At Middle-Field Gate in February
Herbert Howells: The Widow Bird
Lennox Berkeley: The Horseman
Herbert Howells: The Little Boy Lost
Charles Villiers Stanford: La Belle Dame Sans Merci
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Bright is the ring of words
Gerald Finzi: The Sigh
Peter Warlock: Jillian of Berry
Victor Hely-Hutchinson: Set in the manner of Handel
Roger Quilter: Take, o take those lips away
Gerald Finzi: Since we loved
Roger Quilter: Hey, ho, the wind and the rain
Henry Purcell: Music for a while
“Mehta is a technically excellent singer; with a firm well-supported line; an unusually resonant lower range; and fine expressive diction, well equal to Julius Drake's sturdy accompaniment. And he's hardly more bloodless than genteel English tenors of the era...he exploits his thinner tone deftly for unusual, even eerie effects, especially in Stanford's chilling La belle dame snas merci”
“Any suspicion that these songs might sound lukewarm or tentative in the hands of a countertenor is soon dispelled by Mehta's invigorating singing of Quilter's 'Blow, blow, thou winter wind' and the keen way he dramatises Stanford's 'La Belle Dame sans merci'. The verbal point he brings to a handful of Purcell songs in arrangements by Britten and Tippett is also appreciated.”
“Mehta may not possess the most extensive of vocal paintboxes but he does gradate the shades at his disposal to good effect: pastels rather than oils. In Drake he has a partner who draws suitable sounds from the piano.”
1st September 2011
“Bejun Mehta certainly can't be faulted on his eclecticism in his whistle-stop tour of English song...Mehta's singing is so heart-stoppingly beautiful and musically perceptive that you wish he had recorded whole cycles rather than just representative songs.”
11th September 2011
“Mehta's gift for mood and atmosphere is heard in the light beauty of Quilter's "It was a lover and his lass", the sweet melancholy of Gurney's "Down by the Salley Gardens" or the veiled mystery of Lennox Berkeley's "The Horseman". Pianist Julius Drake provides customary alert, expressive accompaniment.”
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