Notes and Editorial Reviews
Some of the best vocal performances of recent years – evidence of the wide musical sympathies of a great singer.
A Song in my Heart - Bryn Terfel
James P CARRELL (1787-1854) and David CLAYTON (1801-1854): 1 Amazing Grace (arr. Chris Hazell) [4:02]; 2 Amazing Grace (arr. Martin Taylor) [3:04]; Trad arr. Chris HAZELL 3 Shenandoah [4:21]; 4 "Ar hyd y nos" [4:46]; 5 "Suo-Gân" [5:03]; 6 "Deep river" [5:12]; Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) 7 The vagabond [3:14]; 8 "Whither must I wander" [4:04]; 9 Silent Noon [3:36]; John IRELAND (1879-1962) 10 Sea Fever [2:20]; Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) 11 "Non più andrai" from "Le Nozze di Figaro"
[3:34]; 12 "Passeggiamo anche noi" and "Il core bi dono, bell’idolo mio" from "Cosi fan tutte" [2:15 + 4:18]; 13 "Ein mädchen oder weibchen" from "Die Zauberflöte" [4:01]; 14 "Io ti lascio, o cara, addio" KAnh245 [4:26]; Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) 15 Erlkönig [4:26]; 16 "Du bist die ruh" [4:42]; 17 Der musensohn [1:55]; Alan J LERNER (1918-1986) and Frederick LOWE (1901-1988) 18 "Little Prince" from "The Little Prince" [3:19]; 19 "They call the wind Maria" from "Paint your wagon" [3:14]; Richard RODGERS (1902-1979) and Oscar HAMMERSTEIN (1895-1960) 20 "Come home" from "Allegro" [4:05]; John HUGHES (1873-1932) 21 Cwm Rhondda (arr. Chris Hazell) [3:39]; Welsh Trad arr. D G Jones 22 "Y march glas" [1:41]; 23 "Glas y dorian" [2:32]; George Frederick HANDEL (1685-1759) 24 "Sì, tra I ceppi e le ritorte" from "Berenice" [4:17]; 25 "Vouchsafe, O Lord" from the Dettingen Te Deum [2:17]; Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) 26 "Lord God of Abraham" from "Elijah" [3:04]; Ivor GURNEY (1890-1937) 27 Sleep [3:08]; Roger QUILTER (1877-1953) 28 "Go, lovely rose" [2:44]; Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) 29 "Une puce gentile" and "Voici des roses" from "La Damnation de Faust" [1:23 + 2:29]; Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) 30 "Die frist is um" from "Der Fliegende Holländer" [10:56]; 31 "Wie todesahnung – O du mein holder abendstern" from "Tannhäuser" [5:53]; Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) 32 "In diesem wetter" from Kindertotenlieder [6:33]; Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) 33 "Du bist wie eine blume" [1:44]; 34 "Die beiden Grenadiere" [3:55]; 35 "Mein wagen rollet [langsam" [3:27]; Sir Arthur SULLIVAN (1842-1900) and Sir William GILBERT (1836-1911) 36 "Hereupon we’re both agreed" from "The Yeoman of the Guard" [1:43]; Giuseppe VERDI 37 "Eh, paggio! … L’onore!" from "Falstaff" [4:32]; John RUTTER (b. 1945) 38 "The Lord bless and keep you" [2:46]; Bryn Terfel (bass-baritone); Neil Martin (pipes), London Voices, London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth (conductor) [1,3,6,38]; Malcolm Martineau [7,8,9,15,16,17,27,28,33,34,35]; English Baroque Soloists, Sir John Eliot Gardiner ; Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo-soprano), Orchestra dell Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Myung-Whun Chung (conductor) ; Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Sir Charles Mackerras [13,14,24,25]; Chorus of Opera North, English Northern Philharmonia, Paul Daniel (conductor) [18,19,20]; The Black Mountain Choir, Risca Male Choir, Orchestra of Welsh National Opera, Gareth Jones (conductor) [4,5,21]; Alun Llwyd (harp) [22,23]; Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Paul Daniel ; Philharmonia Chorus, Eton College Boys’ Choir, Philharmonia Orchestra, Myung-Whun Chung (conductor) ; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Claudio Abbado ; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, James Levine (conductor) [31,37]; Philharmonia Orchestra, Giuseppe Sinopoli (conductor) ; Sir Thomas Allen (baritone), Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Sir Neville Marriner (conductor) ; Martin Taylor (guitar) ;: rec various locations between 1993 and 2006 except 22 and 23 (1978) DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4776686 [76:06 + 72:43];
One glance at the above list shows you the versatility of this singer and the variety of distinguished colleagues with whom he has worked. The booklet note boasts of his ability to tackle music normally regarded as suitable for different kinds of voice, and to bring to them all a powerful sense of vocal drama and sincerity. The latter is certainly true. The English songs in particular all come up with astonishing freshness, even if you know these recordings well, and the two Wagner extracts grab the listener and refuse to let go. It is an amazing achievement to be able to do this and also to portray the very different characters of Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Wilfred Shadbolt. His Mozart, too, is notable for the way in which he is able to differentiate between the different characters and to make the most of the drama inherent in the music. What these discs, apparently chosen by the singer, show above all, is the way in which he is clearly inspired by words and by dramatic situations.
There is a wonderful identification with the Lerner and Loewe and Rodgers and Hammerstein numbers, whose energy and accuracy show up the vocal and dramatic inadequacies of certain well-known singers who specialize only in musicals. The Handel extracts are perhaps somewhat overblown; other items on the original disc would have represented the singer in a more flattering light.
Three of the items are new to CD. Two Welsh songs were recorded in August 1978 when the singer was 12 at the Eisteddfod in Cardiff. It is no surprise that they won a prize, although essentially they have an historic interest rather than a musical one. The final item on the second disc is a version of "Amazing Grace" with Martin Taylor, apparently recorded for the BBC’s "Songs of Praise". As might be expected, this is a sincere and musical performance, which is enjoyable in itself. It does however serve to emphasise just how awful the arrangement of this same song is which starts the first disc. Like the other Chris Hazell arrangements on both discs it is overblown and unrelated to the fundamental character of the song, encouraging the singer to the kind of exaggeration otherwise rare here. There are only six tracks of this kind, but if the discs are listened to as a whole they do have, at least to this listener, a thoroughly depressive effect. Overall these discs show some of the best vocal performances of any sort recorded in recent years, and show also the wide musical sympathies of a great singer. It is a pity that they also include items which it is surprising were issued in the first instance, let alone reissued here.
-- John Sheppard
Works on This Recording
Amazing Grace by Traditional
Bryn Terfel (Baritone)
Shenandoah by Traditional
Bryn Terfel (Baritone)
Suo Gan by Traditional
Bryn Terfel (Baritone)
Written: Wales, UK
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