Vaughan Williams: On Wenlock Edge; Ten Blake Songs; Warlock: The Curlew; Jonathan Dove: The End

Reviewed on Tue 14 Jan, 2014

There can be few more stylish or intelligent singers around at present than the tenor Mark Padmore, who brings to this appealing programme of English vocal offerings all the poise, sensitivity and clarity of diction we have come to expect from him. Completed in 1922 and luminously scored for tenor, cor anglais, flute and string quartet, Peter Warlock's The Curlew is the stand-out item: an extraordinarily haunting setting of poems by WB Yeats, its desolate beauty and sense of inconsolable melancholy cast a powerful spell when performed with such flawless artistry and intuitive understanding. In Vaughan Williams's glorious 1907 Housman-cycle On Wenlock Edge Padmore does not perhaps surpass the notable achievement of his earlier Chandos version with the Schubert Ensemble of London, but both the same composer's sublimely crafted, wonderfully economical Ten Blake Songs (1957) and Jonathan Dove's The End (a memorably serene and tenderly communicative 2010 treatment of Mark Strand's eponymous poem) find him and his instrumental partners from the Britten Sinfonia on unimpeachably eloquent form. Strongly recommended.
–Andrew Achenbach