- When that I was
- Songs for Ariel, for voice & piano (or harpsichord)
- Under the greenwood tree, song for voice & piano (Elizabethan Songs No. 3)
- She Never Told Her Love, song for voice & keyboard, H. 26a/34 (from English Canzonettas II)
- Gesang ("Was ist Sylvia,..."), song for voice & piano, ("An Sylvia"), D. 891 (Op. 106/4)
From the cover of this release, you might think that you're getting a release similar to many others involving songs setting texts by Shakespeare, and indeed you are in part. There's a star tenor, Ian Bostridge, and an accompanist who's also a moderate draw, Antonio Pappano, turning in his baton temporarily for a stint at the keyboard. There are familiar settings by English composers of the 20th century, including Gerald Finzi and Roger Quilter, and one of these, Finzi's gorgeous "Let Us Garlands Bring," should be sampled: you may find that it alone is worth the price of admission. Yet actually the album is something different from what it appears, and Bostridge, sounding clear and light in the higher ranges as ever, deserves credit for stretching the concept. First of all, Pappano is not the only accompanist, although you'd never know this from the graphics. On songs by Thomas Morley and other Renaissance composers (there's an odd texted version of a set of keyboard variations by Byrd, possibly one of the first classical compositions based on an Irish air), Bostridge is joined by the fine lutenist Elizabeth Kenny. These songs are common enough, but they aren't always programmed with the likes of Finzi, and the combination emphasizes the influence of the madrigal tradition, Renaissance and beyond, on 20th century song composers. Then, in the last half of the program, Bostridge takes an even more independent step, diverging into non-English repertory. The "Three Songs from William Shakespeare" of Stravinsky, written in 1953, have been largely ignored in recent years, perhaps because they are transitional works that seem uncomfortable in either the neoclassical or the serialist spheres, with tentative experiments in the latter. But for the Stravinsky lover, this will recommend them, and the songs have an attractive simplicity that fits in well with the rest of the program. There are compact songs by Michael Tippett and a great pair of settings of the same text by Poulenc and Britten that neatly encapsulate the styles of the two. The real find is three of the "Four Shakespeare Songs, Op. 31," written in the late 1930s by Erich Korngold just after he fled fascist Austria for the U.S. These are equally influenced by Korngold's basic late Romantic style, his new interest in the Hollywood film music that was paying his bills, and his idealized image of Merrie Olde England, and they're delightful. The whole thing adds up to a fair survey of how the songs in Shakespeare's plays have been heard by composers down through the centuries, and it's well above par for the course.
|Label:||Rhino Warner Classic|