James Gilchrist - My Beloved is Mine - Opera News
01 February 2013Opera News
William R. Braun
Although the four big Britten pieces in this collection are all associated with Peter Pears, it is hard to think of another tenor since Pears's day who has felt comfortable in each of them. (On This Island was originally conceived for soprano Sophie Wyss, but Pears took it up brilliantly.) Thus it is not unexpected that James Gilchrist finds success in some of these songs. Gilchrist's voice here sounds much as it does in life - a bit small, often breathy, but sweet. [Tilbrook] is very fluent on the instrument (she proves this in the rushing flood of the penultimate Holy Sonnet of John Donne, which pianist Roger Vignoles memorably characterized as "death at the poet's heels") but she gives "correct" performances rather than warm ones.
Gilchrist's humble, deferential singing makes for a lovely, touching rendition of Donne's "Death, be not proud." It is less suited to On This Island, an early Britten cycle that ranks as one of the composer's most difficult vocal challenges. But there are some enjoyable moments in the Michelangelo sonnets, and Gilchrist obviously feels the Donne poetry in a deep way.
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