Celebrating 25 Years of Excellence

One Hundred Years of British Song, Volume 1

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Catalogue No: SOMMCD 0621
Release Date: 10/16/2020
Number of Discs: 1
Artists: ,
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SOMM Recordings launches a revealing three-volume survey of One Hundred Years of British Song with tenor James Gilchrist and pianist Nathan Williamson.

Compiled to reflect the rich variety of British song, Volume 1 throws a spotlight on composers who made a considerable contribution to the song repertoire but whose success in other genres often led to their songs being overlooked.

All four featured composers – Gustav Holst, Rebecca Clarke, Ivor Gurney and Frank Bridge – were born in the late 1800s and lived through the horrors of the First World War and the extraordinary social, cultural and political upheaval that followed.

Two songs by Holst – the liturgically-accented A Vigil of Pentecost and folk-infused The Ballad of Hunting Knowe – receive first recordings.

Songs from Holst’s Twelve Humbert Wolfe Songs are also heard alongside Clarke’s macabre setting of AE Housman’s Eight O’Clock and John Masefield’s The Seal Man, which Williamson describes in his informative booklet notes as “one of the most thrilling English songs in the repertoire”.

Also featured are Ivor Gurney’s powerful and poignant Snow and Sleep and his affecting treatment of WB Yeats’ Down by the Salley Gardens together with Four Songs by Frank Bridge including three romantically heightened settings of Rabindranath Tagore and the deeply moving, lullaby-like Journey’s End to a text by Humbert Wolfe.

James Gilchrist’s previous SOMM releases include Volumes 1 and 2 of Parry’s English Lyrics (SOMMCD 257 and 270) and Penelope Thwaites’ From Five Continents (SOMMCD 0612), to which, theclassicalreview said, “Gilchrist brings authority throughout”.

Nathan Williamson’s SOMM association includes Great American Sonatas (SOMMCD 0163), hailed by Gramophone as “a release of distinction”, and Colour and Light (SOMMCD 0196), a 2019 Recording of the Year for International Piano: “No praise could be high enough for Williamson’s performances, which unearth buried musical treasure beyond price”.

On This Recording

    Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

  1. A Vigil of Pentecost*
  2. The Ballad of Hunting Knowe*
  3. From Twelve Humbert Wolfe Songs

  4. Persephone
  5. A Little Music
  6. The Dream-City
  7. The Floral Bandit
  8. Betelgeuse
  9. Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979)

  10. June Twilight
  11. The Seal Man
  12. A Dream
  13. Eight O’Clock
  14. Ivor Gurney (1890-1937)

  15. Down by the Salley Gardens
  16. Snow
  17. Lights Out
  18. Sleep
  19. Frank Bridge (1879-1941)
    Four Songs (1925)

  20. Day after day
  21. Speak to me, my love!
  22. Dweller in my deathless dreams
  23. Journey’s End

Reviews:

“The first of three discs from the Somm label that will chart the history of a ‘Hundred Years of British Songs’ presented by the smooth and refined tenor voice of James Gilchrist, and pianist Nathan Williamson. Strange to relate they have discovered two unrecorded songs by Gustav Holst, the disc roughly divided between the three composers, and date from the first half of the last century in the ‘British Music Renaissance’. Mostly well known to concert audiences, it contains Ivor Gurney’s Down by the Sally Garden’s, Rebecca Clarke’s A Dream and Frank Bridge’s Speak to me my love. The most gorgeous sound quality. A disc not to miss.” —David Denton, Yorkshire Post