James Bowman’s uniquely plangent counter-tenor voice has been essential listening on record and cd for 45 years, his singing magnificent in operas by Handel and Britten, thrilling in medieval music with David Munrow, deeply moving in sacred works by Bach. In this beautifully recorded recital he offers what he calls “a disparate collection of odds and ends”, chosen, he says, “simply because I happened to like them and wanted to record them.”
Disparate, yes, but the composers of the 23 tracks on this cd represent the cream of our native composers, from Orlando Gibbons and Edward Elgar, along with three songs by Bowman’s sensitive accompanist Malcolm Archer.
Much of the music is devotional, reminding us that long before James Bowman embarked on a starry international career, he was a boy chorister. Church music remains his daily bread, and the heartfelt simplicity of his singing on this recording shows that although his choirstall days may be long behind him, his artistry remains undimmed.
Don’t be alarmed by the valedictory tone of songs like Vaughan Williams’s Dirge for Cybele (Fear no more the heat of the sun). This recital proves that James Bowman is still a golden lad. Thus angels sung.