A century of British art songs to delight those who love the
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 06/26/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"These 53 songs have been collected by Naxos from their extensive acquisitions from Collins Classics, and perhaps other British sources now out of business. There's a steady cottage industry, year after year, producing the typical English art song, which is usually based on folk songs, but even in more modern idioms is profuondly conservative and nostaligic. Half these songs, not to mention half the composers, are totally unknown to American audiences, but the familiar names of Vaughan Williams and Britten represent high quality, and the lesser lights, such as Warlock and Quilter, are mainstays in this repertoire.
I'd challenge all but the most addicted listener to make it through more than ten songs at a sitting, and many of these pieces are tepid, offering comfort rather than inspiration. The singers are among the best, but Graham Johnson and Steuart Beford, who do most of the accompaniments, are lackluster. I know that won't be a popular comment, yet if you compare any of these songs with rendiitons done by Janet Baker, John Shirley-Quirk, and most recently Bryn Terfel and Ian Bostridge, you immediately notice how much more intensity and drama is pesent than this colleciton reveals."