“Among the 26 Ireland songs on this disc are two cycles devoted to Thomas Hardy, dating from 1925 and 1926. Settings of Hardy's poems were of course at the heart of Gerald Finzi's output of songs, and there is nothing in these Ireland cycles that approaches the fine-honed responses and harmonic imagination of those, sensitively though Williams and Burnside present them. In fact it's hard to pin down a distinctive creative personality in any of these songs, and ironically it's the cycle We'll to the Woods No More from 1927 that seems the most individual, with texts from that favourite source for early 20th-century English composers, AE Housman, that has the most character.” The Guardian, 20th June 2008 ***
“Roderick Williams, with his sympathetic, warmly rounded baritone, and Iain Burnside are eloquent advocates of all these songs. Even they, though, cannot dispel a sense of sameishness, with pastoral-tinged melancholy too rarely relieved by something more impassioned or invigorating.” The Telegraph, 14th June 2008
“Another irresistible volume in The English Song Series: a compilation of John Ireland which reveals the sheer breadth of emotional experience and variegated piano writing within his songs. Every word is tasted, pungently flavoured and given rigorous new life, with Iain Burnside's piano playing sentient to every second of Williams's singing.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2008 *****
“Roderick Williams is such a good singer he can make the voice part sound vocal and natural in a way not many have succeeded in doing. …the pianist, Iain Burnside, plays with a sureness of touch to match the highly skilled naturalness of Williams's singing.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2008
“Despite the popularity of 'Sea Fever' and (literally) two or three others, the songs of John Ireland are often found oddly inaccessible. Of all the acknowledged masters of English songs in the 20th century Ireland is the hardest to pin down, to identify even. It has something to do with an elusiveness about his writing for the voice. When you look at the piano parts you feel contact with a pair of hands (his) touching the keyboard; but (with few exceptions) it's hard to believe that he 'sang' the songs as he wrote. The point here is that Roderick Williams is such a good singer he can make the voice part sound vocal and natural in a way not many have succeeded in doing. The songs are high for baritone, low for tenor, and they are written in a way that seems not to know of the difficulties of passing from one area of the voice to another or returning to a particular region with uncomfortable persistency. For Roderick Williams such difficulties seem hardly to exist. The listener's task eases proportionately.
Before going further, it should be said that the pianist, Iain Burnside, plays with a sureness of touch to match the highly skilled naturalness of Williams's singing. And it has to be added that Williams still does not seem to be a communicator in song in the sense that we can see the images flash before him (Terfel-like) as he sings the words. Sometimes, as in The Vagabond (Masefield, not Stevenson) and If there weredreams to sell, he catches the mood extraordinarily well even so. Williams and Burnside find a clearer feeling for Ireland's anxious tenderness and uneasy joy than in any previous recital of his songs.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010