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Delius and Ireland Songs arranged for cello and piano
Frederick Delius’s beautiful songs show his extraordinary gift for melody. John Ireland admired Delius enormously and his songs are inspired by a wide variety of literature, including his hugely popular setting of John Masefield’s Sea Fever. Renowned cellist Julian Lloyd Webber celebrates both composers’ remarkable melodic gifts in these sensitive arrangements, and pianist John Lenehan has received great acclaim for his Naxos recordings of Ireland’s complete piano music.
This recording revives a tradition which was common at the beginning of the last century, arranging the best of vocal music for instruments, of which the singing voice of the cello is one of the best suited. The performing cast here is something of a dream team. Julian Lloyd Webber’s large following will take little persuasion to explore his playing on this beautiful CD, and he is joined both by his cellist wife Jiaxin Cheng and Ireland expert John Lenehan, whose recordings include the Gramophone awardwinning Michael Nyman Piano Concerto (8554168).
Julian Lloyd Webber is one of today’s leading cellists. He has given the premières of more than fifty new works for cello and has inspired new compositions from composers as diverse as Malcolm Arnold and Joaquín Rodrigo to James MacMillan and Philip Glass. His partnership with John Lenehan began in the mid-1970s and they have since given recitals together all over the world. “…the doyen of British cellists” The Strad
“Hearing the songs of both composers without the texts, and played with such attention to contour and gradation, reminds us just how masterly and diverse both composers were in their art of the solo song...As the title of the disc suggests, this is an ideal collection to while away the summer evenings.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2012
“What emerges - as if we needed reminding - is the great gift of each man for melody: divorced from their texts, they work almost better in this form!” International Record Review, February 2012
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Janet Baker - English Song Anthology
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My True Love Hath My Heart: English Songs
Sarah Connolly received excellent reviews for her recital performance of ‘English Songs’ on 11 April 2011 at the Alice Tully Hall in New York. The New York Times wrote: ‘Ms Connolly’s voice was strong and steady through its range, velvety, but with a soft, subtle graininess that gave weight and presence to even her most ethereal floated notes.’
Here the mezzo-soprano, accompanied by Malcolm Martineau on piano, performs four arrangements by Benjamin Britten: three folk songs and one song from an early choral work. These complement the recent Britten CD on Chandos, on which Connolly performs the cantata Phaedra as well as A Charm of Lullabies (CHAN 10671).
Next come eleven songs from the 1920s, which is considered the golden decade for English art songs. Among the highlights are By a Bierside, Ivor Gurney’s stark reflection on death, written in the World War I trenches, and Herbert Howells’s King David which has long been considered a masterpiece. Howells himself said: ‘I am prouder to have written King David than almost anything else of mine.’
The most recent contribution to this disc of English Songs is the surreally retro A History of the Thé Dansant by Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, which was published in 1995.
“Her singing is consistently beautiful in this programme of English songs” Sunday Times, 16th October 2011
“They create a sense of isolation within the sadness of King David; they capture Ireland's responses to the poetry of Hardy, Sidney and Symons with total commitment; and they respond with sentience to Gurney's uniquely eloquent feeling for the inflections of the English language in two of his classic songs” BBC Music Magazine, December 2011 ****
“One of today’s most intelligent musical mezzo-sopranos, Sarah Connolly is in gloriously fluent and expressive voice for an imaginatively programmed selection of mid 20th-century English song...Malcolm Martineau’s accompaniment is exemplary in its sensitivity.” The Telegraph, 27th October 2011 *****
“It is good to find an English singer in her prime championing the lesser-known art songs of her native tradition, and making them sound not so much twee as magical: listen to Connolly’s artless handling of Britten’s “Corpus Christi Carol”, the quiet rapture she finds in Howells’s “Kind David”, the fun she has with the Foxtrot from Richard Rodney Bennett’s “History of Thé Dansant”.” Financial Times, 30th October 2011 ****
“her sense of drama is never overstated. She excels, therefore, in capturing the masculine melancholy of Britten's lullabies and Bennett's brittle, unpredictable scenes from a long marriage. Martineau responds throughout with characteristically flawless, subtle and intuitive accompaniment.” Classic FM Magazine, December 2011 ****
“Connolly sings immaculately, with impeccably sensitive accompaniment from Malcolm Martineau, in sound both clear and perfectly balanced.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2012
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Her Song - Orchestral Songs & Arias
Recorded: The Colosseum, Town Hall, Watford, 27-29 January 2009
Susan Gritton’s solo recital with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins is focussed on orchestral songs by Elgar and John Ireland, varied with delightful solo items by Susan’s grandfather Eric Gritton, by John Sanders, and an aria from Parry’s opera ‘Guenever’, here orchestrated by Jeremy Dibble. This is an enchanting and pioneering survey, with ten Elgar orchestral songs ringingly presented and crowned by Susan Gritton’s affecting reading of The Sun Goeth Down from ‘The Kingdom’. This is the first time so substantial a survey of Elgar’s orchestral songs has been presented in one programme. The song by Eric Gritton, O Stay, Madonna, is a ripe example of lyrical Edwardiana and contrasts nicely with John Sanders’ atmospherically floated Evening on Severn, and Parry’s affecting but stoutly written aria for Queen Guenever facing death at the stake. In contrast there are two groups of John Ireland songs, nine in all, each especially eloquent when heard with orchestral accompaniment. They include the title song Her Song of 1925, which makes a touching lyrical foil to Elgar’s exuberance.
“Throughout Gritton is musically purposeful… while Martyn Brabbins and the BBC players do a fine job.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2009 ****
“…performances are all one could hope for. Susan Gritton brings resplendent tone and intelligent observation to the task in hand, and she receives bright-eyed sensitive support from the BBC Concert Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2010
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The Exquisite Hour
Ständchen, Op. 106 No. 1
Da unten im Tale (No. 6 from Deutsche Volkslieder, WoO 33)
Nachtwandler, Op. 86 No. 3
Feldeinsamkeit, Op. 86 No. 2
Alte Liebe, Op. 72 No. 1
Die Mainacht, Op. 43 No. 2
Von ewiger Liebe, Op. 43 No. 1
Tit for Tat
Trois jours de vendange
Quand je fus pris au pavillon
Arianna a Naxos, cantata, Hob.XXVIb/2
Lost in the stars
“a hugely impressive disc, testifying to the versatility and range of a singer who has already drawn comparisons with Janet Baker” The Guardian
“A national treasure” Evening Standard
“Connolly's lovely singing reaches to the sensuous core” The Telegraph
“Almost seven years ago we went to the Wigmore Hall expecting to hear a well known soprano only to find that she had been replaced by a less well-known mezzo. Sarah Connolly had already appeared with the English National Opera in major roles such as Handel's Xerxes and Donizetti's Mary Stuart. Disappointment at missing the scheduled artist vanished with the completion of the substitute's first phrases. Delight took its place and increased steadily throughout the recital. It was a clear, fresh and powerful voice, used with intelligent assurance, and by the final groups (Duparc and Falla) she had established with the audience the rapport of a much more experienced artist. What was true at the Wigmore holds for this concert at St John's, Smith Square, where her success with the audience is again unmistakable and fully merited.
Again, her choice of programme contributes to the success: a judicious mixture of the familiar and out-of-the-way, and well suited to voice and style. The Brahms group is particularly satisfying, with Die Mainacht broadly phrased, Nachtwandler imaginatively hushed and Von ewigerLiebe warmly felt. The Hahn songs are equally (if contrastingly) delightful, the two pastiche pieces, A Chloris and Quand je fus pris au pavillon charmingly in period. Weill's Speak Low and Ireland's Her Song are winning encore pieces.
That leaves Haydn's Arianna a Naxos, the long and demanding concert aria which opens the programme. Here we find a substantial achievement and a limitation. The style is admirably clean and the emotional range well probed, but the whole remains a little impersonal and one is driven to comparisons. Janet Baker brings warmer humanity and a more memorable timbre while Cecilia Bartoli is more vivid – hear her intense 'Tradita io sono' for instance, or the pale 'Già più non reggo' or the furious final 'Barbaro ed infedel'.
That comparison does, however, throw into a very favourable light Eugene Asti's accompaniment: where András Schiff (for Bartoli) is over– assertive, Asti is sensitive and keeps proportion.
And indeed he does so throughout: a constant pleasure and a major contribution to the recital's undoubted success.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“Connolly woos her audience with the calling-card for any and every mezzo: Haydn's dramatic cantata, Arianna a Naxos. And every second of its nervous and emotional life - its hopes, fears and final despair - are uncovered in Connolly's superbly observant voice and imagination.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2006 *****
“…a clear, fresh and powerful voice, used with intelligent assurance… The Brahms group is particularly satisfying, with Die Mainacht broadly phrased, Nachtwandler imaginatively hushed and Von ewiger Liebe warmly felt. The Hahn songs are equally… delightful, the two pastiche pieces, A Chloris and Quand je fus pris au pavillon charmingly in period. ...Weill's Speak Low and Ireland's Her Song are winning encore pieces.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2006
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