Peter Warlock: Songbook (CR062)

Review by Terry Blain (BBC Music Magazine)

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Recordings of Peter Warlock’s songs are largely dominated by male singers, so on that count alone this new disc by soprano Luci Briginshaw is welcome. Her recital, though, does much more than fill a niche in the discographical market. Carefully planned, chronologically, it charts a stimulating path through Warlock’s song-writing career, offering 28 of the roughly 150 settings he completed.

Briginshaw lays down impressive markers early, with a gently wistful take on Warlock’s first Shakespeare setting ‘Take, o take those lips away’, and an insinuating melancholy in ‘Heraclitus’. While her diction is clear, it’s the broader attention to line and contour which lends particular distinction to Briginshaw’s singing, words nestling comfortably on Warlock’s harmonically adventurous melodies.

The Elizabethan influences in ‘The bayly berith the bell away’ are astutely subsumed in Briginshaw’s heart-tugging rendition, both she and pianist Eleanor Meynell excelling in its lingering, regretful coda. In ‘Dedication’, Briginshaw opens the throttle on a voice which has considerable power in reserve, but can’t save the song from seeming suspiciously full of bluster. Generally Warlock shows more subtlety than that, especially in songs like ‘Sleep’ and ‘Autumn Twilight’, which underlay relatively straightforward vocal lines with more complex, probing piano commentary. ‘Spring’ is more light-spirited, with both voice and keyboard chirruping in lively, mimetic fashion, while the raptly performed ‘The Night’ is more abstemiously fashioned.

Briginshaw’s notes on the songs are uncommonly good, adding considerable value to her recital.

Terry Blain, BBC Music Magazine, 22nd January 2015

Further information

BBC Music Magazine

BBC Music Magazine

BBC Music Magazine brings the world of classical music to life, from interviews with the greatest artists, features on fascinating subjects to all the latest news and opinions from around the music world. We also review over 100 recordings every issue, each one rated by the finest writers in the business.

Visit website: BBC Music Magazine

Convivium Records

Convivium Records

Convivium Records (est. 2009) is committed to working with exceptional artists and composers to record and share their music. It recognises that a great recording project needs to establish a balance between artistic aspirations and commercial expectations. In addition to commercial releases, the label takes on private projects for schools, charities and other institutions.

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