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Vaughan Williams - James Gilchrist - HMV Choice


18 July 2007
HMV Choice
Terry Blain

The poems of A.E. Housman enraptured and haunted a generation at the beginning of the last century - after the Bible, his collection A Shropshire Lad was apparently the most popular book carried by British squaddies in World Was I trenches.

The poetry's special quality of incisive lyrical beauty suffused with a profound nostalgia and sense of loss is superbly distilled in Ivor Gurney's setting of Far In A Western Brookland from his Housman cycle Ludlow and Teme (Gurney was himself a WWI casualty). It's raptly rendered here by English tenor James Gilchrist, whose immaculate diction and mellifluous vocalism similarly inform his account of Warlock's The Curlew.

Gurney was heavily influenced by Vaughan Williams's earlier Housman sequence On Wenlock Edge, where Gilchrist is again immaculately poised stylistically, and sharply characterises the ghostly, beyond-the-grave dialogue of Is My Team Ploughing. The recorded sound is excellent throughout, especially on the redolently atmospheric multichannel SACD layer.


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