Reviewed on Mon 23 Jul, 2018
Sarah Connolly is to be doubly congratulated as programme compiler and for her admirably elegant and eloquent singing throughout.
Here’s a disc to attract lovers of English art songs, with 29 examples taken from the archives of London’s Royal College of Music including three first recordings. Of those, two Britten songs – A Sweet Lullaby and Somnus, the Humble God – begun for but excised from A Charm of Lullabies (also heard here in full) are welcome discoveries. So, too, Mark-Anthony Turnage’s gently tolling setting of Stevie Smith’s Farewell. Sarah Connolly is to be doubly congratulated as programme compiler and for her admirably elegant and eloquent singing throughout, the musical accent largely introspective and twilit, her performances illuminated by adroitly judged treatment of texts and music. Among other delights, Stanford’s sad-sweet A Soft Day is exquisitely realised, Rebecca Clarke’s The Cloths of Heaven rapt and touching, Frank Bridge’s Journey’s End achingly moving and Michael Tippett’s three miniature Songs for Ariel poetically playful. Joseph Middleton’s scrupulous piano accompaniment adds its own evocative aura to a welcome survey.