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Most Grand To Die

Composer George Butterworth
Ivor Gurney
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer Eugene Asti
James Rutherford
Catalogue Number BIS-1610 SACD
EAN 7318599916101
Format SACD Hybrid

This hybrid disc plays on both CD and SACD players
SACD Surround - SACD Stereo - CD Stereo

Release date Jun 2012
Total time 79'07

“Nicely planned and gorgeously performed.” American Record Guide
“The title of the disc is highly appropriate: it is indeed “most grand”!” MusicWeb International; “Gorgeously performed … This is one of the best available anthologies of 20th-century English songs.” American Record Guide; ”Rutherford brings his Wagnerian bass-baritone to bear on the song repertoire with uncommon skill and sensitivity… With accompaniments of exemplary precision, this disc is highly recommended.” Gramophone

The First World War marked an entire generation of composers, both in England and on the continent. Of the three composers represented here, George Butterworth was killed on the Somme in 1916, while Ralph Vaughan Williams, who damaged his hearing while commanding an artillery battery, survived, but with memories that would colour many of his post-war masterpieces. Ivor Gurney, finally, also survived, but with a seriously aggravated bipolar disorder that would lead to his spending the last 15 years of his life in a mental hospital.
While Butterworth composed his two song cycles some five years before the outbreak of the war, the collection of poems that he chose his texts from – A. E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad – was striking a resonant contemporary note with its numerous poems dealing with ill-starred young men facing death. Even earlier, in 1904, Vaughan Williams had turned to poems by Robert Louis Stevenson, for his Songs of Travel, a set of nine songs in which the wanderer-narrator philosophically accepts the mixture of joys and sorrows that are offered to him along the road. Gurney – the youngest of the three composers – was also a poet, and in Severn Meadows expressed his longing for home in both text and music. Along with In Flanders, Even such is time and By a bierside – ending with the words of the album’s title – Severn Meadows was composed during Gurney’s time in the trenches, before exposure to poison gas in September 1917 caused him to be returned to England.
Interpreting these highly expressive songs is James Rutherford, who has risen to fame as a Wagnerian singer, with Hans Sachs (Die Meistersinger) at Bayreuth among his credentials, but who reserves a special place in his repertoire for English 20th-century song. On his first recording for BIS he appears with his regular collaborator Eugene Asti at the piano.
Choose format
  George Butterworth
  Bredon Hill and other songs 15'50
01 1. Bredon Hill 4'57
02 2. O fair enough are sky and plain 3'14
03 3. When the lad for longing sighs 2'19
04 4. On the idle hill of summer 3'11
05 5. With rue my heart is laden 2'09
  Ivor Gurney
  Four Songs (‘Songs from the trenches’) 12'40
06 In Flanders 3'22
07 Severn Meadows 2'01
08 Even such is Time 2'58
09 By a bierside 4'19
  George Butterworth
  Six Songs from ‘A Shropshire Lad’ 14'21
10 1. Loveliest of trees 3'00
11 2. When I was one-and-twenty 1'22
12 3. Look not in my eyes 2'05
13 4. Think no more, lad 1'19
14 5. The lads in their hundreds 2'24
15 6. Is my team ploughing? 4'11
  Ivor Gurney
16 The Twa Corbies (Border Ballad) 4'53
  Ralph Vaughan Williams
  Songs of Travel 24'55
17 1. The vagabond 3'10
18 2. Let Beauty awake 1'59
19 3. The roadside fire 2'29
20 4. Youth and love 3'44
21 5. In dreams 2'27
22 6. The infinite shining heavens 2'26
23 7. Whither must I wander 3'46
24 8. Bright is the ring of words 2'25
25 9. I have trod the upward and the downward slope 2'29
  Ivor Gurney
26 Sleep 3'21
  Album total 79'07
BaritoneRutherford, James
PianoAsti, Eugene
ComposerGeorge Butterworth
Gurney, Ivor
Vaughan Williams, Ralph

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