James Gilchrist - My Beloved is Mine - The Guardian
03 August 2012The Guardian
James Gilchrist and Anna Tilbrook
have already recorded one of Britten's tenor song cycles, the Hardy settings of
Winter Words, on a previous disc for Linn, and they continue their series with
four more. Strictly speaking, though, the earliest of them, the five settings
of WH Auden that make up On This Island, and which were Britten's first
published songs, weren't originally composed for tenor at all, but for soprano.
Sophie Wyss, for whom Britten also composed the orchestral cycle Les
Illuminations, gave the first performance in 1937. But all the others here were
written for Peter Pears, beginning with the Michelangelo Sonnets in 1940, and
ending with the first of the canticles, My Beloved Is Mine, seven years later.
Gilchrist's rather English sound
fits music that was conceived for Pears's equally English style very well,
whether in the unbuttoned declarations of love of the Michelangelo songs, or
the much darker introspection of the Donne Sonnets. His immaculate diction - in
Italian as well as English - is more than ample compensation for a slight
feeling that sometimes the vocal lines are treated with just a little too much
respect, that everything is just too correct, when a bit more dash and daring
might have brought an extra dimension to some of the songs. But Gilchrist's
restraint also proves to be the perfect counterpart to Tilbrook's piano
playing, which relishes every bit of the athleticism that Britten built into
accompaniments that he wrote to play himself.
Related LinksJames GilchristMy Beloved is Mine