Magazine article Opera Canada

Songs and Proverbs of William Blake

Magazine article Opera Canada

Songs and Proverbs of William Blake

Article excerpt

BRITTEN

GERALD FINLEY HYPERION: CDA67778

LES ILLUMINATIONS

BRITTEN

KARINA GAUVIN

ATMA:ACD2 2601

Hardly a month goes by, it seems, without a new Gerald Finley or Karina Gauvin recording. Although they are two of Canada's greatest singers and busiest recording artists, their repertoires rarely intersect--until now, however, with these splendid Benjamin Britten recitals.

Finley's issue consists of the composer's works for baritone and piano, the centrepiece being the challenging Songs and Proverbs of William Blake cycle, composed for Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and premiered in 1965. Also included is a collection of juvenilia that Britten put together in 1968 under the title Tit for Tat. John Shirley-Quirk, a close musical associate of the composer, premiered these five songs, all with texts by Walter de la Mare, the following year. Several individual songs flesh out the disc, and some of the most appealing items are among these. Indeed, Finley sings the opening group of songs ("Lemady," "She's like the swallow," "I wonder as I wander" and "Tom Bowling") with such beauty that it's tempting to put the CD player on perpetual repeat. The disc concludes with two humorous songs, including a hysterical account of "The DeafWoman's Courtship."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Reviewing each new Finley disc can become repetitive since one ends up noting the same things--the finesse and sophistication of his music-making, his burnished yet radiant timbre, the incredible clarity of his diction, his attention to musical and dramatic detail, his ability to create characters and tell stories, his keen focus and power of concentration. …

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