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Britten: Before Life & After, Songs / Padmore, Vignoles


Release Date: 06/09/2009 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 907443   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Benjamin BrittenHenry Purcell
Performer:  Roger VignolesMark Padmore
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews


You have several excellent choices in this repertoire, from Peter Pears' inimitable, referential performances with Britten at the piano to Philip Langridge's ever-solid, Pears-influenced interpretations (type Q7481 in Search Reviews), to this from tenor Mark Padmore, the least Pears-like renditions of The Holy Sonnets and Winter Words but every bit as convincing and moving and gripping in their individuality and in their lyrical vocal beauty and powerful interpretive sensibility. As a performer of the Holy Sonnets of John Donne and Winter Words cycles you won't get very far without a deep respect for and understanding of the poetry, nor will your musical utterances ring with much sincerity without a
Read more firm grasp of Britten's carefully wrought structures, symbolic cues, and thematic devices. A symbiotic relationship of voice and piano is crucial--one is inseparably bound to the other.

Do not fear: Padmore is a master of the difficulties of the dark and dangerous world of Britten's John Donne settings as much as he is a sensitive and sensuous evocateur of the uniquely enlivening atmosphere depicted in the five folksong arrangements. His piano partner Roger Vignoles is an unfailingly artful and agreeable accomplice, their collaboration achieving its most memorable moments in the Op. 52 Winter Words song cycle. Between Padmore's range of vocal expressions and Vignoles' alternately playful and poignantly illuminated effects (trains, a creaky table, birds) we have a truly remarkable dramatic experience that's worth many repeat hearings. Not only that, but when compared to other renditions--by Langridge, Bostridge, and yes, even Pears--Padmore's performances are fully worthy of Britten's conceptions, which of course were created for Pears and--rightfully--always will be tied to his unique interpretive style.

I have to admit, when I hear Pears and Britten perform these songs, there's a communicative aspect that goes right to the heart, the gut, the soul. Whether you're a fan of Pears' voice or not, he tells the story of Britten's songs like no one else, and if you're a fan of Britten's music you can't do without those extraordinary recordings. But you also shouldn't miss out on modern interpretations of these 20th-century masterpieces--and in that regard Mark Padmore and Roger Vignoles won't disappoint either newcomers or seasoned aficionados. The London studio sound is excellent, the Steinway piano a robust, vibrant, well-balanced asset, and the liner notes--by Vignoles--nicely succinct yet very informative. Highly recommended!

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Winter Words, Op. 52 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Roger Vignoles (Piano), Mark Padmore (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953; England 
Length: 21 Minutes 9 Secs. 
2.
Holy Sonnets of John Donne, Op. 35 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Roger Vignoles (Piano), Mark Padmore (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; England 
Length: 23 Minutes 19 Secs. 
3.
Thou wakeful shepherd, Z 198 "Morning Hymn" by Henry Purcell
Performer:  Roger Vignoles (Piano), Mark Padmore (Tenor)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1688; England 
Length: 3 Minutes 11 Secs. 
4.
Let the night perish, Z 191 "Job's Curse" by Henry Purcell
Performer:  Roger Vignoles (Piano), Mark Padmore (Tenor)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1688; England 
Length: 5 Minutes 20 Secs. 
5.
Now that the sun hath veiled his light, Z 193 "Evening Hymn on a Ground" by Henry Purcell
Performer:  Roger Vignoles (Piano), Mark Padmore (Tenor)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1688; England 
Length: 4 Minutes 25 Secs. 
6.
Tom Bowling and Other Song Arrangements: no 6, I Wonder as I Wander by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Roger Vignoles (Piano), Mark Padmore (Tenor)
Period: Modern 
Written: United Kingdom 
Length: 3 Minutes 28 Secs. 
7.
Folksongs (10), Volume 4: no 2, Sail on by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Roger Vignoles (Piano), Mark Padmore (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960; England 
Length: 2 Minutes 27 Secs. 
8.
Folksongs (7), Volume 3: no 4, The miller of Dee by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Roger Vignoles (Piano), Mark Padmore (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 11 Secs. 
9.
Folksongs (10), Volume 4: no 5, At the mid hour of night by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Roger Vignoles (Piano), Mark Padmore (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960; England 
Length: 2 Minutes 38 Secs. 
10.
Folksongs (7), Volume 3: no 2, There's none to soothe by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Roger Vignoles (Piano), Mark Padmore (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; England 
Length: 1 Minutes 51 Secs. 

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