Norwegian Rhapsody No.3 Opus 21 Johann Svendsen Download 'Norwegian Rhapsody No.3 Opus 21' on iTunes
Despite the best efforts of all concerned, the overall feeling on offer here is repetition.
Composer: Finzi, Butterworth, Warlock, Vaughan Williams, Somervell, Ireland and Bridge
Repertoire: Songs of War
Artist: Simon Keenlyside (bar),Malcolm Martineau (pf)
Label: Sony Classical 88697944242
The Music: Baritone Simon Keenlyside’s personal selection of songs about war and the effects of war are taken mainly from the late-19th/early-20th school of English writing for piano and voice. There’s plenty of Butterworth (from A Shropshire Lad), Vaughan Williams (including his popular song The Vagabond), Ireland and Finzi – all very lyrical and tonal.
The Performance: In his liner notes, Keenlyside stresses that he was fascinated to realise that a great deal of war poetry is more about life than death, more about hope than despair. Thus he brings a lyrical sense of longing and nostalgia to these songs, and invests each one with a sharp sense of emotional clarity. There’s a salty force to ‘Sea Fever’ and a hushed melancholy to Somervell’s ‘Into My Heart’ for example. Martineau’s subtle accompanying perfectly suits the atmosphere of each song.
The Verdict: Despite the charms on offer, there’s not quite enough variety of mood here to sustain an entire recital. After a while the different shades of nostalgia wrapped up in folk-song inspired melodies come to feel rather samey.
Want More? Keenlyside is on more exciting form on his disc Tales of Opera (Sony 88697 190432).