English Song Cycles

Regis Records, 2009

English Song Cycles

By Haffner String Quartet, James Griffett

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958): On Wenlock Edge
Peter Warlock (1894-1930): The Curlew, Five Nursery Jingles, The Birds, Sleep, The Fairest May, The Water Lily, Mourn no Moe, My Gostly Fader, Chopcherry.

The Curlew is Warlock’s masterpiece. Not just that: it is the finest English song-cycle in the literature. Its vinegar-sharp, tear-seared melancholy is searchingly sweet and poignant. It is a visionary piece and the players here do not short-change it at all. The instrumental playing is better than for On Wenlock Edge. More in your face than the EMI Partridge/MGL (review) this makes for a refreshing change. I noted also that Griffett sings the words “The boughs have withered because I have told them my dreams” where Partridge whispers them. Warlock’s bar-defying and awkward placement of words against the moving canvas of the music is deftly handled by Griffett. This version remains an extraordinarily intense and tenderly individual alternative. The towering sound grips the listener and the tenor’s dynamic range is well accommodated. On headphones one can once or twice hear the distant whine of traffic noise or the chirrup of birdsong. This recording has been in circulation since first issued on LP (originally Pearl?) in the early 1970s and with good reason.

MusicWeb International

Further information: MusicWeb International

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