HAVPCD354 – The Bliss of Solitude
This beautiful album, recorded in the delightful surroundings of Brentwood Cathedral, features the magnificent tenor voice of Richard Dowling in partnership with the pianist Joanna Smith, who also contributes several enchanting pieces for solo piano. The recordings include Vaughan Williams’ On Wenlock Edge in the version for piano and voice, as well as the first recording of Andrew Wright’s exquisite The Bliss of Solitude – settings of verses by William Wordsworth – and music by Roger Quilter.
‘The Bliss of Solitude’, Andrew Wright. For someone who devotes the majority of their compositional endeavours to the liturgy of the Church, the shift to writing for the voice (in the form of the Song Cycle) is easy to comprehend. In the liturgy, the spoken word is, shall we say, lifted when sung; a simple chant can make the everyday of one’s vernacular language become the sacredness of the numinous – we are transported to somewhere outside of ourselves. And isn’t this what music is about? When Andrew Wright completed his Requiem in 2005 it was the culmination of some twenty years or more of composing; being his largest-scaled work thus far, as well as his most ambitious compositional project.
Richard Dowling (tenor) and Joanna Smith (piano)
After many years experience as an active musician, his tastes and interests are broadening: with his knowledge of the voice (he was a member of The Tallis Scholars) and his inherent love of nature (particularly the Lake District) he was increasingly becoming inspired towards a new area for compositional exploration. Then came the gift of a copy of the poetical works of William Wordsworth. This spurred Wright on to set the texts to music. The initial suggestion for these songs came from singer and oboist friend, Julia Bentham. Bentham and Wright had worked on the staff at the choristers’ school at Westminster Cathedral and so their musical acquaintance had been a long one when Bentham suggested Wright might set one or two of Wordsworth’s texts to music. After favourable reception of the earlier songs, the project was worked into a song cycle proper by Wright, with performances given in London and Grassmere.