Described by his teacher, Stanford, as “the one who most fulfilled the accepted ideas of genius”, the poet and composer Ivor Gurney composed more than 300 songs despite suffering from bipolar disorder and tuberculosis.
The Five Elizabethan Songs show the young composer’s astonishing limpid fluency, while Tears and Sleep rank among his most exquisite creations.
Comedy, heavenly rapture, tender urgency and lovelorn longing all touch the music of this ‘lover and maker of beauty’, whose songs find ideal interpreters in Susan Bickley and Iain Burnside.
“Susan Bickley’s sensitivity and vocal allure confirming her among the finest mezzos of her generation” Classical Source
“...as Susan Bickley's beautifully understated performances with pianist Iain Burnside show, Gurney was not only an important figure in early 20th-century English song, but also a distinctive one detached from its folksy mainstream. Gurney's style is much more European, much more conscious of the German Lieder tradition, and Schumann especially; this is a well-conceived and important disc for all English music enthusiasts.” The Guardian, 7th August 2009 ****
“…Susan Bickley shares with Gurney a direct and instinctive response to the inflections, metres and emotional colours of the English language.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2009 ****
“…the settings of John Masefield are especially memorable, notably "By a Bierside" with a wonderful final climax, superbly conveyed here by Susan Bickley. Wherever you turn, these songs offer illumination and refreshment, splendidly captured not only by Susan Bickley but by her ever-sensitive accompanist, Iain Burnside.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2009
“Bickley’s attractive mezzo is the perfect interpreter for Gurney, gutsy one moment, restrained the next, whilst textual clarity is always given paramount importance. Iain Burnside accompanies her superbly on the piano, with real passion for the music.” Opera Britannia, 26th August 2009 ***