Info & track listings
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 Wrights exquisite The Bliss of Solitude settings of verses by William Wordsworth and music by Roger Quilter.
Roger Quilter (1877-1953) was the miniaturist par excellence who would be best remembered for his songs and piano pieces and his controversial writings. He was a rebel who became eclipsed by a new post-war generation of composers including Herbert Howells and Arthur Bliss; he was a man of wide ranging interests that included eastern religion, alternative medicine, theosophy and the symbolist poets. The latter was shared by Claude Debussy, of whose influence so much can be detected in Quilters works.
It is said that, while both Quilters songs and piano pieces share all the best aspects of his compositional make-up, the songs are better known, and the piano music shows more of the impressionist in him, as is so evident in their titles. Of the opus 16 pieces, Dance in the Twilight is dedicated to Luigino Franchetti, while Summer Evening was a response to the touching letter by a friend who, facing imminent death, writes of being at peace.
At a Country Fair shows great exuberance and is among the most virtuosic of Quilters pianowriting and almost shies away from the more modest Quilter of the piano accompaniments, displaying somewhat uncharacteristic rhythmic vitality. On Wenlock Edge and works for piano, Ralph Vaughan Williams It is not given to many great composers who excel in large-scale works to achieve success as songwriters also, and Vaughan Williams was not a great song-writer. His melodic gift was fertile and original, and his ability to set words aptly and simply was undoubted, but only very few of them are complete, rounded, successful works of art.
One wonders at these words of James Day in his 1961 Master Musicians study of Vaughan Williams. Day was writing at a time not long after the great VWs death, before any great anniversary would encourage great devotion to and analysis of the man and his music. So, would Days words still ring true with us today?
Behind all Vaughan Williams music lie two distinct influences, both rediscoveries for English music when he began to employ them [one of which is] the English folk song On this disc of music for voice and piano, we are invited to hear a simpler side of Vaughan Williams.
Folk song and the lone voice occupied him throughout his entire working life as a musician. In his relative youth he would travel along Ingrave Road in Brentwood, Essex (on which stands the cathedral where the disc was recorded) and record Charles Potiphar sing Bushes and Briars now something of a venerable occasion in Vaughan Williams career. Arguably spurred on by such pursuit, in the early 20th century he would write his first song cycles: Songs of Travel (1907) and On Wenlock Edge (1909).
Vaughan Williams had embarked on a period of study with Maurice Ravel in Paris before composing the cycle On Wenlock Edge in 1909. Previously to this, Vaughan Williams had composed another setting of literature Walt Whitmans Toward the Unknown Region. Given fresh impetus, he produced the G-minor string quartet and what would be his second song cycle.
The text is taken from A. E. Housmans A Shropshire Lad, in which the author, in 63 ballad-form vignettes, creates what is described by some as a half-imaginary Shropshire, narrated by the character of a young farm hand, or a soldier. Housman the poet for adolescents writes, in A Shropshire Lad, with a pessimistic view; the following entry in The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Literature is worth quoting here: [Housman] speaks in the voices of performed in many concerts and radio broadcasts and sang for a recording of Parrys choral works, released on the Naxos label.
He was also a member of the BBC Daily Service Singers between 2007 and 2010. Whilst an undergraduate, Richard Dowling also sang in the chorus of the Royal Northern College of Musics production of The Rakes Progress by Stravinsky. He was a long standing member of the Manchester University chamber choir and sang in several close harmony and a cappella groups.
|1||03:44||RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS – On Wenlock Edge: On Wenlock Edge|
|2||02:00||RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS – On Wenlock Edge: From far, from eve and morning|
|3||03:29||RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS – On Wenlock Edge: Is my team ploughing|
|4||00:43||RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS – On Wenlock Edge: Oh, when I was in love with you|
|5||07:47||RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS – On Wenlock Edge: Bredon Hill|
|6||03:54||RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS – On Wenlock Edge: Clun|
|7||04:02||Two Pieces for Piano – The Lake in the Mountains|
|8||03:51||Two Pieces for Piano – Prelude on Rhosymedre|
|9||03:08||ANDREW WRIGHT – The Bliss of Solitude: A Sense Sublime|
|10||02:31||ANDREW WRIGHT – The Bliss of Solitude: To a Butterfly|
|11||02:26||ANDREW WRIGHT – The Bliss of Solitude: Song|
|12||03:23||ANDREW WRIGHT – The Bliss of Solitude: Daffodils|
|13||03:17||ANDREW WRIGHT – The Bliss of Solitude: Nature|
|14||02:53||ANDREW WRIGHT – The Bliss of Solitude: To a Skylark|
|15||02:22||ROGER QUILTER – Three Pieces for Piano, Op.16: Dance in the Twilight|
|16||04:12||ROGER QUILTER – Three Pieces for Piano, Op.16: Summer Evening|
|17||04:40||ROGER QUILTER – Three Pieces for Piano, Op.16: At a Country Fair|
|18||02:46||Three Shakespeare Songs, Op.6 – Come away, death|
|19||01:31||Three Shakespeare Songs, Op.6 – Oh Mistress mine|
|20||02:31||Three Shakespeare Songs, Op.6 – Blow, blow, thou winter wind|
|21||01:36||Music, when soft voices die|
|23||01:27||Three Songs, Op.3 – Love’s Philosophy|
|24||02:00||Three Songs, Op.3 – Now sleeps the crimson petal|
|25||02:18||Three Songs, Op.3 – Fill a glass with golden wine|