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Celebrated tenor Mark Padmore joins the Britten Sinfonia in some of the most beautiful English music for voice and orchestra. The centrepiece is Britten's magical evocation of twilight and nightfall, the 'Serenade' (with Stephen Bell, horn). In Gerald Finzi's war-time cycle 'Dies natalis', the ecstatic mood reflects a child's wide-eyed wonder at the world. Britten's poignant 'Nocturne' completes the programme.
Britten: Serenade For Tenor, Horn & Strings, Op. 31
“so tender and piercing that you really do seem to be listening to these song cycles anew...Padmore’s tenor audibly sports some family resemblances [to Pears], though he’s less precious than Pears, with a conversational ease when singing pianissimo never mastered by Britten’s love and muse. These are intensely sensitive and poetic readings, strengthened further by Stephen Bell’s clean and lyrical horn”
3rd May 2012
“Padmore proves to be a more convincing interpreter of Finzi than he is of Britten...there remains something rather neutral and restrained about his approach at moments when the music would really benefit from a firmer grip. In Dies Natalis, though, he shows that grip – it's a wonderfully muscular performance, beautifully judged and shaded, set off by suitably rapturous string playing.”
12th May 2012
“It was high time Mark Padmore, one of our most thoughtful tenors, set down his interpretation of the “Serenade” – softer-grained than we might have expected from a singer of such probing spirit and dramatic antennae, and softer-edged than the orchestral accompaniment from the Britten Sinfonia, whose horn player, Stephen Bell, proves a robust soloist.”
“the sense of the poems across with extra immediacy, as if Padmore has read the texts many times over before fitting them to the music. There is much beauty - not perhaps in the purely vocal sense...but in the marriage of words and music...Highly recommended.”
19th May 2012
“[Padmore's] not found wanting in the “Nocturne for tenor, seven obbligato instruments & strings”, in which he ably negotiates Shelley's reverie, Wordsworth's melodrama and Tennyson's “thunders of the upper deep”; the “Serenade for tenor, horn & strings” is equally impressive...“Dies Natalis”, however, offers too stark a contrast to the otherwise elegaic tone.”
“The performance of Nocturne is the highpoint: a wide-eyed, variegated account from singer, obbligato instrumentalists and orchestra alike.”
“Apart from the sheer beauty of his timbre, Padmore and his sympathetic accompanists have the full measure of Britten’s genius, and the readings are unlikely to be bettered for years to come.”
“Padmore's singing is very loving indeed, but in places I can't help feeling that it's a case of 'less is more'. The Britten Sinfonia and instrumental soloists are admirably attuned to Padmore's approach...Padmore is more successful in the exquisite Dies Natalis, where a more extrovert approach really pays off.”
5th May 2012
“Deeply intense, questing performance of two of Britten's great orchestral song-cycles, matched by the players with whom Padmore has rehearsed, workshopped and toured these works extensively. The Finzi is much more than just a filler...this is the masterly performance is deserves.”
The Arts Desk
16th June 2012
“Padmore’s new recording is terrific - his voice is expressive, beautiful and terrifying by turns...Bell’s performance is spectacular...Padmore sings with such sweetness that you’ll convince yourself that Finzi was an underrated genius.”
New Zealand Herald
“Peerless tenor extends the Peter Pears legacy into a new century.”
“He sings with less of the honeyed beauty that he is famous for and more incisive bite, which works for some songs, such as the Dirge, but not so well for others, such as the opening Pastoral. However, this does have the advantage of lending his word-painting that extra edge...Both playing and singing are at their most alluring in the concluding Keats Sonnet, seductive and beautiful with a hint of danger, leading wonderfully into the softly dying horn epilogue.”
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