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On Wenlock Edge
     

On Wenlock Edge

by Andrew Kennedy
 
The two unifying themes of this song recital are the pastoral poetry of A.E. Housman and the unusual setting for tenor and piano plus string quartet. Though Vaughan Williams' "On Wenlock Edge" came first in 1909 followed by Ivor Gurney's "Ludlow and Teme" in 1919 and then by Ian Venables' "Songs of Eternity and Sorrow" in 2004, all

Overview

The two unifying themes of this song recital are the pastoral poetry of A.E. Housman and the unusual setting for tenor and piano plus string quartet. Though Vaughan Williams' "On Wenlock Edge" came first in 1909 followed by Ivor Gurney's "Ludlow and Teme" in 1919 and then by Ian Venables' "Songs of Eternity and Sorrow" in 2004, all three song cycles share the poet's deep feeling for the English countryside. The biggest difference between the three cycles is their level of originality. Vaughan Williams' setting radiates the composer's avid enthusiasm for Housman's poems and for his own burgeoning musical invention. Gurney's, on the other hand, is so openly indebted to Vaughan Williams' in its style and setting that his cycle lacks a clear compositional profile, and Venables' is so mindful of its historical precedents that it sounds more like an addendum to Gurney and Vaughan Williams' cycles than an independent work. Still, while "On Wenlock Edge" may be the most original work here, all three contain much beautiful music, and all three deserve to be heard, especially in polished and passionate performances like these. Tenor Andrew Kennedy has a strong but fully controlled voice with a burnished top and a focused vibrato, and he finds the poetic and musical heart of each song. He's particularly effective in evoking the yearning tone of Vaughan Williams' "Bredon Hill" and in floating the nostalgic melody of Gurney's "When I was one and twenty." Sympathetically accompanied by pianist Simon Crawford-Philips and the Dante Quartet, Kennedy delivers emotionally affecting performances of all three works. Signum's digital sound is very vivid and quite imposing. More sensitive listeners might want to check their volume controls before starting.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/29/2008
Label:
Signum Uk
UPC:
0635212011225
catalogNumber:
112

Tracks

  1. On Wenlock Edge, song cycle for tenor, piano & string quartet (or tenor & orchestra)
  2. Ludlow and Teme
  3. Songs of Eternity and Sorrow, Op. 36

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