Magazine article Gramophone

Britten * Norris: 'Fame's Great Trumpet'

Magazine article Gramophone

Britten * Norris: 'Fame's Great Trumpet'

Article excerpt

Britten * Norris

'Fame's Great Trumpet'

Britten The Holy Sonnets of John Donne

Norris Tomorrow nor Yesterday. Think Only This

Mark Wilde ten Joseph Spooner vc

David Owen Norris pf

EM Records (F) EMRCD015 (77' * DDD)


Norris couples Britten's Donne settings with his own

David Owen Norris is best known as a pianist, both as a virtuoso soloist and as an accompanist. But here he adds the role of composer in a series of songs. His style is very much 'school of Britten', which makes the coupling very apt when Norris, like Britten, sets poems by John Donne in his cycle Tomorrow nor Yesterday. The remaining four songs commemorate the deaths in the First World War, ending with the best-known of all, Rupert Brooke's 'The Soldier', from which is drawn the title of the sequence, Think Only This.

That was directly prompted by the atrocities of 9/11 in New York, which Norris witnessed on television in company with the tenor Philip Langridge. He added a part for cello obbligato to intensify each setting. Needless to say, Norris as a pianist adds elaborate accompaniments, most strikingly in the first of the Sassoon settings, 'Counter-Attack', in which the piano graphically illustrates the shattering sound of heavy guns firing. …

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