The Prince Consort - Ned Rorem - The Guardian
20 November 2009The Guardian
Last month at the Oxford Lieder festival, the Prince Consort, a group of promising young British singers brought together by the pianist Alisdair Hogarth, gave the European premiere of an evening-long song cycle by Ned Rorem, Evidence of Things Not Seen. The consort's first disc for Linn is also devoted to Rorem, though the 29 settings here were not conceived as a sequence, and range right across his creative career from the 1940s to the 80s, the poets represented - from Edmund Spenser to Theodore Roethke and Paul Goodman, via Yeats, Wilde and Whitman - as well as the interleaving of solo songs with those for two, three or four voices, do recall that large-scale work. The more one hears of Rorem's songs, too, the more intriguing they seem. The music is unashamedly conservative, but never derivative; there's certainly Poulenc and Britten in the mix, and also Fauré and Finzi, but the word-setting is so lucid, so concerned with projecting every syllable, that nothing seems contrived. The performances catch every drop of that naturalness, too; the disc may only scratch the surface of Rorem's songwriting (over 600 settings to date) but it crystallises its essence perfectly.
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