John R. WILLIAMSON (b.1929) Lads of love and sorrow Love: She walks in beauty [3:21]; She
is not fair [1:58]; When we two parted [4:00] War:The lads in their hundreds [2:37]; ’Tis
five years since [2:30]; Oh, it is the jar of nations [1:31];
On your midnight pallet lying [2:21] Sorrow and regret:Hughley steeple [4:12]; I
lay me down and slumber [2:00]; Sinner’s rue [3:40]; Parta
Quies [1:22]; He looked at me with eyes … [2:07]; Others,
I am not the first [3:01]; Farewell to barn and
stack … [2:25]; When the lad for longing sighs [2:02];
I hoed and trenched and … [2:26]; Oh were he and I
together [1:42] Lost love:The new mistress [1:53]; Oh,
see how thick the gold… [3:06] Religion: Easter hymn [3:18] Pastoral:Revolution [1:49]; In valleys
of springs of rivers [4:41]; March [1:56] Conflict:Before the battle [2:31]; I
stood with the dead [3:43]
David Jones (piano)
rec. 12 June 2006, venue not stated. DDD
Full English texts included DUNELM
RECORDS DRD0265 [66:30]
R. Williamson hails from Manchester and spent most of his
professional life teaching; composing in his spare time.
In the last few years his works have begun to appear on Dunelm.
Of particular note are Volume
2 of a series of piano music played by Murray MacLachlan
and his second
cello sonata. In terms of songs, two groups of twelve
Housman settings were reviewed enthusiastically by Rob
Barnett in 2002 and Jonathan
Woolf in 2004. These are now available together on a
single disc which I can recommend highly (DRD0257).
of the songs on this new disc are also settings of A.E. Housman
(A Shropshire Lad, Last Poems or Poems published posthumously);
the exceptions are She walks in beauty and When
we two parted (Byron), Before the battle and I
stood with the dead (S. Sassoon) and She is not fair (S.T.
Coleridge). The programme is not a cycle but is well-constructed,
containing songs which were written over a long period of
time, the first three dating from the 1950s. Two decades
later Williamson discovered Housman, with whose work he clearly
has a special affinity.
music covers a wide range of emotions and makes a powerful
impression. There is an overriding poignancy about much of
it, whether the subject is soft and pastoral or overtly anguished.
Rowlinson copes with both the technical demands and range
of these songs. His voice is equally comfortable at both
ends of the dynamic range, for example in the hushed tones
of In valleys of springs of rivers and in the almost
agonising I stood with the dead. David Jones accompanies
disc is very well-presented apart from some rather small
print on the back liner. The recording is closely balanced
and struggles to cope with Mark Rowlinson’s powerful voice
at the climaxes. Indeed I noticed some audible distortion
in a few places, most noticeably on the very moving final
track. I therefore contacted Jim Pattison of Dunelm Records
who advised that this might be related to the NAIM equipment
I was using, the disc being a CD-R. Playing it in several
other players seemed to confirm this view and, surprisingly,
it sounded best in my old Sony Walkman. The message seems
clear – if you experience such a problem try it in another
player. Certainly, the quality of the music and performances
will reward such persistence.
love of Housman and eloquent music continue to impress and
he is surely now amongst the most important living British
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