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Roth: Songs In Time Of War / Padmore, Honore, Nicholls, Szymanski

Release Date: 09/30/2008 
Label:  Signum Classics   Catalog #: 124   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Alec Roth
Performer:  Alison NichollsMark PadmorePhilippe HonoréMorgan Szymanski
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Composer and poet are perfectly united in attractive song cycles.

Alec Roth the composer and Vikram Seth the poet become so much of a unit during the course of these song-cycles that one feels it would be quite natural to ask Roth for a personal background to the poems and query Seth about the whistlingtune or some other feature of the music. The style (of both) is idiosyncratic – a carefully versified informality of talk, a structural development of musical motifs that sounds like free recitative. The Chinese Garden songs (Roth’s is the Dr Sun Yat Sen Classical garden in Vancouver), like From California and Romantic Residues, are modern, while the Songs in Time of War derive from 8th-century China, but there is
Read more modernity in that too, just as the themes of the others might have found recognition and a response in ages of the past.

These are attractive works, the Songs in Time of War probably striking deepest though in an utterly non-ponderous, unpretentious way. The music takes interesting turns, as when a cynical blues passage emerges from the timeless observation that “the great are always paid in disuse and neglect”. The resources of voice and instruments are imaginatively exploited.

And the performances (by the “creator” artists) are excellent. On the Hyperion disc Roth shares with Britten, Ravel and others, the whole working together as an unusual and delightful programme. I would nevertheless be inclined to give priority to the Signum disc, where you come to know him more fully, and where, I think, you have in Mark Padmore the better-suited singer. The instrumentalists all make a special contribution and benefit from their close association with the works. Alison Nicholls, the fine harpist, writes informative notes for Hyperion, while Roth confines himself modestly to matters of fact in his introduction for Signum. And if, for many of our readers, the recitals constitute an introduction to this composer, it is one which I should say they will not regret following up.

-- John Steane, Gramophone [9/2008]
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Works on This Recording

Songs in Time of War by Alec Roth
Performer:  Alison Nicholls (Harp), Mark Padmore (Tenor), Philippe Honoré (Violin),
Morgan Szymanski (Guitar)
Chinese Gardens by Alec Roth
Performer:  Alison Nicholls (Harp), Mark Padmore (Tenor), Philippe Honoré (Violin),
Morgan Szymanski (Guitar)

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