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Fresh from his triumph in the Glyndebourne 'Billy Budd', star tenor Mark Padmore is joined by members of Britten Sinfonia in 3 quintessentially British song-cycles: Ralph Vaughan Williams’ 'On Wenlock Edge', with pianist Huw Watkins; 'Ten Blake Songs' with oboist Nicholas Daniel; and Peter Warlock’s best-known work, 'The Curlew'. 'The End' by Jonathan Dove (a co-commission by Britten Sinfonia and Wigmore Hall) receives its world première recording here.
British composer Jonathan Dove (b. 1959) made the following remarks on the genesis of his new work, 'The End' (2012), with support from the 'Tenner for a Tenor' campaign.
"When I heard Mark Strand read his poem ‘The End’ to a small gathering of artists in Italy a few years ago, I was moved – and also felt immediately that it was a poem that could be sung. I hoped that one day I might have the chance to set it to music. I did not know exactly what the music would sound like, but I imagined a solo voice with several instruments.
Britten Sinfonia gave me the opportunity to make this wish come true, by inviting me to write something for Mark Padmore to sing, with instrumentation to match Warlock’s 'The Curlew'. String quartet with two solo wind instruments seemed the perfect combination to suggest the gentle rocking motion of the ship slipping into darkness, and perhaps hear birds suspended in flight."
Ralph Vaughan Williams: On Wenlock Edge
I. On Wenlock Edge
II. From far, from eve and morning
III. Is my team ploughing?
IV. Oh, when I was in love with you
V. Bredon Hill
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Ten Blake Songs
I. Infant Joy
II. A Poison Tree
III. The Piper
V. The Lamb
VI. The Shepherd
VII. Ah, Sun-flower
VIII. Cruelty has a human heart
IX. The Divine Image
Jonathan Dove: The End
Peter Warlock: The Curlew
I. The Curlew
II. Pale brows, still hands
III. I cried when the moon
V. I wander by the edge
29th September 2013
“This is a reflective, beautifully delivered recital of English song much concerned with death, its nature well suited to this tenor’s mellifluously lyrical, emotionally intense music-making.”
1st November 2013
“This is an extremely fine disc. Mark Padmore’s singing is technically beyond reproach and his eloquence is telling in all four works on the programme. At every turn he finds superb partners in the members of Britten Sinfonia...this new release is one of the finest discs of English song to have come my way in a long time.”
“Dove's musical nightscape shifts slowly and slightly...The same vocal simplicity and white timbre that chafes so tellingly at the smugness of Blake's Innocence poems (aided there by exquisite solo oboe) also works well here for Padmore, never blurring the clarity of the composer's melodic architecture.”
“Edge, rather than lyrical elegance, is Mark Padmore's expressive strength, combined with his superb diction...I've never heard [the Blake Songs] come across so convincingly...Lavish praise too for the wonderful playing of the Britten Sinfonia...I shall be coming back to this.”
“Many of Blake’s finest, most condensed verse utterances are here, Innocence and Experience nestling side by side: darkness is ever-present, as we move for instance from the Sunflower- and then to the comforting ‘Divine Image’. Ten Blake Songs is a bleak masterpiece and Padmore and Daniel are exceptional… This fine release earns plaudits on every front”