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Songs of War is a very personal selection of songs about war, carefully chosen by Simon Keenlyside. The songs contemplate the innermost thoughts of soldiers on the front lines, concentrating on themes of homesickness, longing, fear and love.
Simon Keenlyside has provided the sleeve notes himself for this album, displaying his own personal thoughts on the compositions, poetry and subject matter. The album’s cover image, provided by the Imperial War Museum, is a photograph of a soldier from WW1 writing a letter home, reflecting the album’s themes of longing and homesickness. Full song texts are included in the booklet.
Into My Heart An Air That Kills
Youth And Love
The Infinite Shining Heavens
Loveliest Of Trees (A Shropshire Lad)
When I Was One-and-Twenty (A Shropshire Lad)
Look Not In My Eyes (A Shropshire Lad)
Think No More, Lad (A Shropshire Lad)
The Lads In Their Hundreds (A Shropshire Lad)
Is My Team Ploughing? (A Shropshire Lad)
There Pass The Careless People
White In The Moon
O Fair Enough Are Sky And Plain
When The Lad For Longing Sighs
On The Idle Hill Of Summer
With Rue My Heart Is Laden
The Three Ravens
Fear No More The Heat O' The Sun
Thy Hand In Mine
The Vagabond (Songs Of Travel)
An Incident (War Scenes)
When Death To Either Shall Come
The Street Sounds To The Soldiers' Tread
Beat! Beat! Drums!
Dirge For Two Veterans
5th November 2011
“The title is deceptive, for these songs exude anything but a warlike mood. Almost all are English: the idiom is winsome, romantic and often quite innocent, as in Vaughan Williams’s “Youth and Love” and Bridge’s “Thy hand in mine”. At the heart of the recital – beautifully vocalised and artlessly characterised by Keenlyside – is Butterworth’s cycle of songs under the title “A Shropshire Lad”.”
13th November 2011
“Despite the title, most of the songs in this admirable collection are anything but warlike. There is no place for patriotic bombast here; instead, these polished miniatures yearn for a vanished pastoral England...a beautifully judged recording, exquisitely sung; poignant but never sentimental.”
13th November 2011
“At 52, the British baritone is in peak vocal health, and certainly young-sounding enough to portray the men in their late teens and twenties who leave their homes and loves...I can’t think of another baritone who can match him for beautiful tone, nuance of expression and immaculate diction...Keenlyside is incomparable here, in one of the song records of the year.”
The Arts Desk
26th November 2011
“it’s not damning with faint praise to say that you don’t really notice the music at all – it’s Simon Keenlyside’s impeccable delivery that registers. Housman’s bittersweet musings are heartbreaking, notably in the penultimate poem; just listen to Keenlyside's mention of "the lads that will die in their glory and never be old"...A sober, intelligent CD, beautifully sung, immaculately accompanied. Keenlyside's sleeve notes are intelligent, insightful and touching.”
“A sense of the mannered or precious can debase these songs; Keenlyside's sweeping, robust lyricism is deceptively effortless and exactly right...Dr Johnson once said that every man thinks worse of himself for never having been a soldier; Keenlyside has evidently thought deeply about this, making for a robust and involving recital.”
“Keenlyside's mark is everywhere apparent and full marks to him for persuading Sony to indulge his choices...He is indeed a remarkable singer. He can encompass tragedy and irony, heroic and tender, he has magical half-tones, introduces a thrilling touch of head voice in Warlock's The Night, he can tell a story...Keenlyside's impassioned, almost overwhelming rendering of Frank Bridge's Thy Hand in Mine is, I think, the core and key to this compelling collection”
“One can imagine a more poignant account of the ghostly voices in 'Is my team ploughing?' but 'The lads in their hundreds' is all the more moving for Keenlyside's robustness...The rest of the programme is equally rewarding and Keenlyside's diction is perfect.”
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