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All Through The Night
Traditional Welsh Songs for Tenor and Harp

Ar hyd Y nos (All through the night) [2:40]
Bugeil'or gwenith gwyn (Watching the white wheat) [4:31]
Wrth Fynd Hefo/Dacw' nghariad/Lisa lân/Paid â deud  [10:17]
(Going with Deio to Tywyn/Behold my beloved/Fair Lisa/Never tell)
Merch Megan (Megan's daughter - harp solo) [4:58]
Tra bo dau (While there are two) [3:31]
Hiraeth (Yearning - tenor solo) [2:40]
Y deryn pur (The pure bird) [2:59]
Saith o ganeuon ar Gywyddau Dafydd ap Gwilm ac eraill
(Seven songs on poems in the Cywydd metre by Dafydd ap Gwilym and others) c.1340-1400 [9:51]
Llwyn Onn (The Ash grove - harp solo) [4:04]
Gyrru'r y chen (Driving the oxen) [1:36]
Dafydd y garreg wen (David of the white rock - harp solo) [4:29]
Cyfri'r geifr (Counting the goats) [4:13]
Mae'nghariad i'n Fenws/Tros y garreg (My beloved is Venus/Over the rock) [4:31]
Nos galan (New year's eve) [1:08]
Huw Rhys-Evans (tenor)
Ieuan Jones (piano)
rec. ALRA, July 1991
CLAUDIO CR4114-2 [63:55]

 


This isn’t a new release. It’s been in the Claudio catalogues for well over a decade now. Its resilience reflects well on a company that manages to retain a comprehensive back catalogue. If only the majors adopted such an accountant-free approach.

The programme is self-explanatory, which is just as well because the notes are almost entirely devoted to biographies of the two musicians. Everyone will recognise, whether in English or in Welsh, at least three or four songs – devotees naturally will be familiar with more.

Huw Rhys-Evans has a lyric tenor – quite high-lying and seemingly easy of production. It was no great surprise to read that he’d sung Ferrando in Così nor that he’d sung Tamino. Of late he’s perhaps better known as a Rossinian of real distinction and as a Bach Evangelist. This Claudio was almost certainly his first major venture on disc. Back in 1991 we find his voice in youthful, fresh estate and conveying the songs with generosity and sentiment.

He manages the very high tessitura of the second verse of Ar hyd Y nos (All through the night) with something approaching alacrity. When he sings solo, as he does in the touching song Hiraeth (Yearning) it’s with straight-as-a-die intonation and real bardic simplicity. Such bardic affiliations are reinforced by what is one of the most beautiful of all these settings, that of Claddu’r Bardd O gariad (The burial of the lovesick bard) – one of the Seven songs on poems in the Cywydd metre – and graced by mournful harp arpeggios and a keening in the voice. Talking of harp arpeggios brings us neatly to Ieuan Jones. His virtuosity is never in doubt and fortunately he has solo opportunities to prove it. I was especially taken by Merch Megan (Megan's daughter) in which the world of the late nineteenth century French operatic paraphrase is never too far away. His playing of that staple Dafydd y garreg wen or David of the white rock is penetratingly expressive and noble of utterance – devilishly fast fingers as well. And hear how Rhys-Evans relishes, indeed is lasciviously in love with, the lisping consonants of Hiraeth am yr Haf (Yearning for Summer). 

This was recorded in a big acoustic with a long decay – but it’s only noticeable when songs end and doesn’t interfere with one’s pleasure. Incidentally Y deryn pur was often known as The Faithful Bird but is here The Pure Bird  - violinist Albert Sammons arranged, published and recorded it during the First World War. Not a lot of people know that.

Jonathan Woolf


 


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