Saturday, 30 August 2008

Benjamin Britten: Winter Words and other songs

Winter Words Op.52 (1953) Four Burns Songs (1975) Who are these Children? Op.84 (1969) If it’s ever Spring Again (1953) Dawtie’s Devotion (1969) The Gully (1969) The Children and Sir Nameless (1953) Tradition (1969) Ca’ the Yowes (from Folk Song Arrangements, Vol.5) Daniel Norman (tenor) and Christopher Gould piano

I recently reviewed this interesting yet somewhat baffling CD from BIS. I began my review by recalling that “I was first introduced to Benjamin Britten’s Winter Words by way of an old Decca Eclipse recording with Peter Pears and the composer. This has become my touchstone for any subsequent recording or performance. The work was written for Pears in 1953 and the vocal line tends to reflect that singer’s unique style. Perhaps Pears’ interpretation would be regarded as an anachronism nowadays – certainly his voice can sometimes sound contrived and perhaps even a little strained.

After looking at each work on this CD, I decided that I had some reservations about this CD. “…now we come to Daniel Norman. I am baffled. I am not convinced by his interpretation of this work...”

I conclude my review by commenting that “All in all this is a ‘mixed’ CD. It will never become my preferred choice for Winter Words – that will remain Peter Pears with all his faults! I guess that it is Pears’ ‘intimacy’ that wins out in the end.
Yet I feel that “the Burns Songs are masterly and the additional songs are welcome ‘for the record.’”

Please read my full review of this CD at MusicWeb International


Can Bass 1 said...

I agree - the Pear's recording is perhaps the finest example of his singing. Can't stand the fella in anything else, though.

John France said...

Hmm Yes, I have this kind of love/hate thing about PP - yet it was what I was brought up with - so there is really a soft spot for him.
And of course we may never have had all these wonderful songs and opera roles if it had not been for their relationship!