Notes and Editorial Reviews
BRITTEN Winter Words. 7 Sonnets of Michelangelo. Songs • Nicholas Phan (ten); Myra Huang (pn) • AVIE AV2238 (55:51 Text and Translation)
"As near as I can tell, this is Nicholas Phan’s first solo disc, and it is a welcome one.
is, to my mind, one of the strangest of Britten’s song cycles, and takes the longest to get into. The Hardy poems are on the verge of the twee (“Wagtail and the Baby”), or almost frightening by what’s left unsaid (“Midnight on the Great Western” or “At the Railway Station, Upton”), or bleakly questioning (“Before Life and After”). Phan has a generally pleasing voice and he sings them intimately, with perhaps more restraint
than shows his voice at its best. The
Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo
was written in 1940, while Britten and Pears were in the United States. In these, Phan sounds at moments uncannily like Peter Pears both in his sound and in his interpretation. There are a number of recordings of both of these sets and I would not want to be without Britten’s and Pears’s own 1954 recording. The disc is filled out with six of Britten’s many folk-song arrangements, of which “The Ash Grove” is a most delightfully out-of-kilter take on a well-beloved tune."
FANFARE: Alan Swanson
Works on This Recording
Winter Words, Op. 52 by Benjamin Britten
Nicholas Phan (Tenor),
Myra Huang (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1953; England
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