This is a pleasant programme of English songs and makes a good souvenir of
a well loved tenor in his prime, in repertoire which he made his own. He
is completely at one in partnership with his sister, who has been his regular
accompanist for many years.
The CD was obtained for review after their recent successful appearance at
South Bank Centre in an afternoon
event devoted to Ivor Gurney, many of whose poems were composed
whilst he was serving in the trenches in France, longing for his West Country
home countryside. A setting of one of those is included, Severn Meadows,
" - - - do not forget me quite, O Severn meadows". Sadly, those wartime
experiences devasted an already fragile mental balance and, after some years
convalescence, he had to spend the remainder of his life in mental hospitals.
Gurney's settings of many poets are flexible and the piano accompaniments
underline the overall moods, rather than word-painting. The mostly early
songs by Frederick Delius come from the last decade of the
19th century. Their styles are more cosmopolitan than Gurney's,
some of them quite lively.
The recording was made in 1980 in a resonant chapel in Hampstead. It is adequate
for its time, but likely to appeal most to people who have enjoyed hearing
this duo over the years. The notes provide sufficient background, and full
texts are enclosed, helpful even though Ian Partridge's diction is notably
Peter Grahame Woolf