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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


 

 

Available from Berse Records
(+44 (0)1978 845048)

Andrew GRIFFITHS - baritone
WILLIAMS: ‘My Little Welsh Home’; ‘Llanfihangel Bachellaeth’; ‘Gwynfyd’; ’Crwys’
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Don Giovanni, ‘Madamina! Il catalogo é questo’
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) ‘Thou Art Gone Up On High’
TRADITIONAL ‘Dafydd y Garreg Wen’ (David of the White Rock)
LEWIS ‘Cân Yr Arad Goch’
SCHÖNBERGStars’; ‘Empty Chairs At Empty Tables’
(Sir) Arthur SULLIVAN ‘The Lost Chord’
Mitch LEIGH ‘Man of La Mancha’
Vaughan THOMAS ‘Berwyn’
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tannhäuser, ‘O du Mein Holder Abendstern’
(Sir) William Sterndale BENNETT (1816-1875) ‘The Carol Singers’
Andrew Griffiths (baritone) (b.1968)
Accompanist. Annette Brynn Parry (piano)
Recorded at the Tabernacl, Machynlleth, Wales. 2003
BERSE RECORDS BECD 1 [50.07]

 

The disc leaflet states that the singer started his singing with a Welsh Male Voice Choir and as a soloist was awarded the ‘Blue Riband’ at the Welsh National Eisteddfod and the ‘International Young Singer of the Year’ at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod. He turned professional when he left the Royal Northern College of Music in 1992. According to my records of his biographical details, Andrew was born in 1968 and won the coveted ‘Riband’ in 1992 AFTER which he entered the R.N.C.M. to study with Neil Howlett. The singer was good enough to reach the finals of the College’s ‘Webster Booth/Anne Ziegler Award’ finals in 1993 and 1994. In the first of those years the finalists included Jane Irwin, Claire Bradshaw and Riccardo Somonetti who have gone on, like the 1994 winner, Ashley Holland, to make considerable careers in the operatic field, not least with English National Opera. My notes of the 1994 competition mention Andrew’s voice as being of medium size, somewhat tight, and of no great distinction.

Listening to this collection, Andrew Griffiths’ voice has grown whilst his musicality has not kept pace. This is most evident in the ‘Catalogue’ aria (tr. 2) where there is a lack of tonal variety with limited characterisation. This in an aria that is a feast of possibilities. In the Handel (tr. 3) the divisions are not well articulated and the tone raw at times, particularly at the top of the voice (tr. 6). Elsewhere the pianist does not help with slow tempi that test the singer’s legato. In the likes of Sullivan’s ‘Lost Chord’ what Andrew lacks can be heard to superb effect on Tommy Allen’s discs of ‘Songs My Father Taught Me’ (Hyperion). He goes head to head with Bryn Terfel’s disc ‘We’ll Keep A Welcome’ (DG) in ‘My Little Welsh Home’ (tr. 1) and ‘David of the White Rock’ (tr. 4) the former being one of the best tracks on the disc. The other Welsh songs and those of Schönberg and Leigh (trs. 6, 13, 10) lie pleasantly on the ear.

The virtue of this disc lies in its variety. Whilst Andrew Griffiths will never scale the operatic heights his singing will give pleasure in the lighter repertoire and, to his compatriots, in the Welsh language songs.

Robert J Farr

 



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