Featuring Vaughan Williams’ masterly and intensely personal Five Mystical Songs, this album reflects on the sources of inspiration of some of his sacred choral works, alongside gems of 19th- and early-20th-century English church music. Often setting the poetry of the King James Bible, the finely spun melodies and sensitivity to word-rhythm of composers from S. S. Wesley to Herbert Howells result in a uniquely British form of expression.
The 37 songs in this recital, written by 27 composers – male, female, English, French, Swiss, German, Romantic, modern and contemporary – bear witness to the richness of Shakespeare’s works to which this recital is dedicated.
Folk Songs from the Eastern Counties is is the third in a series of four albums recording all 81 of the folk songs in English that Ralph Vaughan Williams arranged for voice and piano or violin. 57 of the 81 songs have not previously been recorded in these arrangements.
SOMM Recordings is pleased to announce Birdsong, a fascinating crossgender exploration of art songs associated with the female voice by baritone Roderick Williams, accompanied by pianist Andrew West. The recital features signature songs from the height of Romanticism by Brahms and Clara and Robert Schumann alongside a more recent quartet of sensuous songs by Sally Beamish. In his revealing foreword, Williams recalls having his choice of Brahms’s Sapphische Ode refused by competition organisers because it was “a woman’s song”. Returning recently to the work prompted him to question why some songs are considered gender specific. Birdsong is his response.
This album represents the culmination of what leading British baritone Roderick Williams described as ‘a dream come true’. It features premiere recordings of his orchestrations of songs by Vaughan Williams and other composers associated with him and is released to commemorate those who perished in WWI.
Edward Cowie is one of the most individual and notable voices in contemporary music and considered by many to be the greatest living composer directly inspired by the natural world. He has worked for over 40 years writing music in response to landscapes and the voices of creatures. In this new cycle of 24 ‘sonic portraits’ of different British birds from 4 distinctive habitats, Cowie has drawn even closer to composing music that not so much imitates nature, but that – after much study and extensive field-work – has led to new music with highly original treatments of the relationships between the bird singers and where and how they sing. This album will be followed in early 2022 by a companion (music for flute and piano) featuring birds of Australia entitled ‘Where Song was Born’.
These works by Robert Saxton were written between 2013 and 2019 and represent his continuing journey of exploration in modal and harmonic structures; complex in structure but creating no jarring modernist difficulty for the listener. A mix of orchestral, chamber and vocal works, it features top performers including world-renowned baritone Roderick Williams and equally famous (and now film star) Clare Hammond. Robert Saxton received early guidance from Benjamin Britten and studied with Elisabeth Lutyens, Robin Holloway and Luciano Berio among others. He has received commissions from the BBC (TV, radio and Proms) and many prominent ensembles. Until retiring in 2021 Robert was Professor of Composition at Oxford University and is a Research Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music.
English pianist Roderick Chadwick has recorded the second volume in a series which presents Books 2 through 5 of Messiaen’s “Catalogue d’oiseaux” coupled with works which are linked either in style or subject matter. This follows the well-received issue in October 2020 of the first volume, entitled ‘La Mer Bleue’ which included Book 1 of the Catalogue.