English Song Series 14 - Vaughan Williams: Songs Of Travel
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This disc brings us three of Vaughan Williams?s finest song cycles, and the single song Linden Lea , and the combination is very satisfying. Vaughan Williams wrote some of the 20th century?s most beautiful and evocative songs, songs that sound like no other composer and that stay long in the memory after one gets to know them. Vaughan Williams had a keen ear for text-setting, and is one of the rare 20th-century composers whose music amplifies the poems he set without overwhelming them.
This is a lovely compilation, featuring some of the composer?s most effective works in this form. The performances are very good, without erasing the best competition from one?s mind. Roderick Williams is an intelligent and musical singer, with a pleasant light baritone voice. The tone is a bit throaty, but not offensively so, and he sings with a reasonably strong feel for dramatic inflection. There is no question that those who find this repertoire appealing will enjoy this disc, although Naxos could have helped improve that enjoyment by providing texts.
It is when we start comparing with the best competition that the limitations of these performances become clear. Benjamin Luxon?s richly colored and imaginatively inflected performances of the Songs of Travel and Poems by Fredegond Shove (Chandos CHAN 8475), Anthony Rolfe Johnson?s similarly effective recording of the Songs of Travel and The House of Life (EMI 75785) are both more satisfying recordings, not to mention Bryn Terfel?s remarkable reading of the Songs of Travel (DG 445 946), which is coupled with other English songs.
Still, if you own none of this repertoire and find this particular compilation an effective program, Williams and Burnside give good, solid performances that make clear the composer?s genius in this idiom.
FANFARE: Henry Fogel
Catalog Number: 8557643
Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer: Iain Burnside, Roderick Williams