The Contrast: English Poetry in Song

The Contrast: English Poetry in Song cover
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The Contrast: English Poetry in Song
Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Joseph Middleton (piano)

[ BIS / CD ]

Release Date: Friday 7 February 2020

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Song composition has been a constant in British music since the lute and consort works of the early seventeenth century. By 1900, it had developed into a sophisticated genre embraced by almost all serious composers. The music on this amply-filled disc illustrates the diversity of British song-writing and its transformation over a century: from Vaughan Williams's Orpheus and his Lute (ca 1901) to HuwWatkins's Five Larkin Songs, composed in 2010 for Carolyn Sampson, who performs them here. Together with Joseph Middleton, her partner on several acclaimed recital discs, she has devised a highly contrasting programme bookended by two groups of songs by William Walton - A Song for the Lord Mayor's Table from 1962, celebrating the diversity of London, and three songs from Façade, the 'entertainment' with which the young composer gained both fame and notoriety in 1923.These frame settings by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Roger Quilterand Frank Bridge of poetry by writers from Shakespeare and Shelley to Keats and Yeats. In comparison, the anti-romantic poems by Philip Larkin have been described as marked by 'a very English, glum accuracy'. Huw Watkins (b. 1976) has selected texts from across Larkin's output, catching the various moods - ranging from a certain unsentimental nostalgia to the poet's seemingly habitual pessimism - in settings that often carry a bittersweet sting in the tail.


William Walton:
A Song for the Lord Mayor's Table (The Lord Mayor's Table
Glide gently
Wapping Old Stairs
Holy Thursday; The Contrast; Rhyme)
Three Façade Settings (Daphne Through gilded trellises; Old Sir Faulk)

Ralph Vaughan Williams:
Orpheus with his lute
The sky above the roof
Silent Noon

Frank Bridge:
Go not, happy day
When most I wink; Adoration
Come to me in my dreams
When you are old
Mantle of Blue
Love went a-riding

Huw Watkins:
Five Larkin Songs (Who called love conquering;
Wants; Love Songs in Age; Money; Dawn)
[World Première Recording]

Roger Quilter:
Dream Valley
Fair House of Joy
By a Fountainside
Arab Love Son
Autumn Evening
My Life's Delight