[ Chandos / CD ]
Release Date: Saturday 10 April 2010
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One of Britain's leading lyric sopranos, Susan Gritton here performs a unique programme of works by three English composers, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Edward Gardner, ENO's Musical Director.
The quintessence of Finzi, Dies natalis sets texts by the seventeenth-century poet Thomas Traherne, which reflect the joy and wonder of a newborn child's innocent perspective on the world. The richly textured, resourceful string writing and the long melodic lines are hallmarks of Finzi's style. The subtle inflections of the word-setting and lyricism have attracted many leading vocalists both in concert and on disc. Although particularly associated with the tenor voice, Dies natalis was premiered, and is increasingly performed by, sopranos.
This premiere recording of the version of Delius's A Late Lark for soprano voice is currently the only available recording of the work. A setting of W.E. Henley's poem 'I.M. Margaritæ Sorori', it offers a lovely lyrical reflection of the serene acceptance of death and is especially poignant as it was one of Delius's last works. Eric Fenby, Delius's friend and amanuensis, recalls that one day after he had read the poem through to Delius, 'and had finished playing his setting, [Delius] said, "Yes, that is how I want to go."'
Susan Gritton, who also appears on Chandos' Grammy Award© winning Paul Bunyan, here includes the Quatre Chansons françaises, the most significant work of Britten's juvenilia. The songs, to texts by Verlaine and Hugo, were composed between June and August 1928 when Britten was a mere fourteen, and demonstrate the flair for instrumental colour that was to become the hallmark of the mature composer. The album is completed by the later song cycle Les Illuminations, which offers a further development in his exploration of the orchestral song cycle, a genre that he was to make very much his own during his career.
"...there is much to admire in [Gritton's] delicate, considered vocalism, as well as in her refined musicianship...With the BBC string players on sterling form, Finzi's haunting blend of lyricism and astringency, the bite of his harmonic scrunches and the fluid interplay of his lines...all come over." (BBC Music)
"The pleasures here are many...right from the outset one can hardly fail to be struck by the exquisite (but never self-aware) sheen of the BBC SO's response. Edward Gardner directs with the utmost sensitivity...Susan Gritton, too, sings with heartfelt empathy, radiance and intelligence, and her alliance with Gardner certainly distills the necessary tingle-factor." (Gramophone)
Quatre Chansons Françaises
Les illuminations, Op. 18
A Late Lark
Dies natalis, Op. 8