Michael HEAD (1900-1976)
Dear delight [2:54]
Oh, for a March wind [3:10]
Sweet Chance, that led my steps abroad [2:2l]
Tewkesbury Road [2:53]
The Estuary [4:14]
Limehouse Reach [2:35]
Over the Rim of the Moon: (The ships of Arcady [3:48]; Beloved [1:40]; A blackbird singing [2:45]; Nocturne 3:50])
October Valley [3:12]
The Garden Seat (2:19]
The Viper [2:24]
Had I a golden pound [l:56]
Lean out of the window |2:25]
A Piper [1:25]
A Green Cornfield [2:18]
Love’s Lament [3:I5]
Star Candles [2:30]
The little road to Bethlehem [2:44]
Money, O! [2:06]
Three Songs of Venice (The Gondolier [5:09]; St Mark’s Square [2:26]; Rain storm [3:26])
My Sword for the King [2:18]
You cannot dream things lovelier [2:32]
Ailish Tynan (soprano), Catherine Wyn-Rogers (mezzo), Roderick Williams (baritone), Christopher Glynn (piano)
rec. 8-9 July 2009, January 2010, Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth
HYPERION CDA 67899 [76.30]
One finds songs by Michael Head cropping up now and then in English solo song recital programmes. They rarely fail to impress or, at least, to please, so this disc from Hyperion is very welcome indeed. It contains twenty-seven of the hundred-plus songs and immediately establishes Head as a most serious and skilful song composer. They are performed by singers who have made names for themselves within the genre of English solo song, here accompanied by Christopher Glynn.
I am not always entirely convinced by Tynan and Wyn-Rogers - the former has a rather forced tone at top of the range, and a tendency to start notes hesitantly and then only fully hit the sound halfway into the notes. Whilst her native Irish accent works brilliantly in the traditional Irish Had I a Golden Pound for instance, it is less appropriate in, for example, the Christina Rossetti setting A Green Cornfield. She manages to capture a lovely sense of tenderness, however, in the beautiful Star Candles.
Although Wyn-Rogers is wonderfully expressive in songs such as The Garden Seat - and I like her Irish accent in A Piper - I find that her rather slow and wide vibrato doesn’t quite work with these particular songs.
Christopher Glynn rather takes a back seat, but nevertheless does a fine job as accompanist.
This means that Roderick Williams rather steals the show - he is, in any case, as superb as ever - a beautiful, rich tone, excellent enunciation, expression and communication. His singing in the exciting Tewkesbury Road is particularly atmospheric, and the well-crafted and incredibly effective The Estuary - Head’s personal favourite amongst his songs - is here most passionately executed - wonderful.
The disc concludes with the gorgeous You cannot dream things lovelier and, with Williams singing, the words as good as come true!
An excellent and well programmed disc, with a good mixture of songs evoking different moods; certainly music that deserves to be better known, and here persuasively advocated.
A good mixture of songs evoking different moods; they deserve to be better known and here are persuasively advocated.