Related Reviews
AudioVideoHD
4½ Stars
"Por tanto y como ya es habitual en Linn, el sonido es "simplemente perfecto"."
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Opus Musica (Spanish)
Un Cd muy recomendable para aquellos melómanos interesados en la canción de concierto inglesa.
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Pizzicato
Supersonic Award November 2007 - Für mich ist dies eine der schönsten Lied-Platten der letzten Monate!
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Pizzicato (English)
Supersonic Award November 2007 - This singer has something above and beyond others...
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OpusHD.net
'Highly Recommended' from the French website
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Sunday Herald
4 Stars
A performance of 'thoughtful elegance'
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High Fidelity Poland
4 Stars
An excellent review from the Polish audiophile publication
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Independent on Sunday
A beautiful recording of "music alternately windswept and haunted"
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Klassik.com
4 Stars
'James Gilchrist erweist sich wieder einmal als Liedsänger erster Güte.'
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Nottingham Evening Post
4 Stars
Gilchrist's voice is well attuned to this spiritual landscape
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Sunday Telegraph
5 Stars
Five stars for the 'beautifully performed' recording
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Classic FM Magazine
5 Stars
I wish this recording had been around during my formative years, for I'm sure it would have left a lifelong mark.
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Gramophone
...its finest performance on record. Strongly recommended.
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BBC Music Magazine
4 Stars
James Gilchrist's elegant, shapely phrasing soars through it all like a bird.
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AllMusic.com
A performance with "polish, power, and passion"
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Hi Fi Choice
4½ Stars
...winning, measured performances...
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MusicalPointers.co.uk
...it is hard to imagine a more satisfying performance.
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Audiophile Audition
James Gilchrist is simply without peer in this music...
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The Telegraph
CD of the Week!
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The Sunday Times
3 Stars
The songs are beautiful...
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sa-cd.net
5 Stars
Artistically and sonically this is an outstanding issue
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HMV Choice
...immaculate diction and mellifluous vocalism...
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ClassicsToday.com
4½ Stars
"Excellent!"
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The Times Knowledge
4 Stars
'...he has a simple warmth and easy beauty, perfect for these songs of loss.'
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The Observer
CD of the Week: 'This is an excellent collection for lovers of English song.'
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The Times
'...as an interpreter of English song, Gilchrist is often in a class by himself.'
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Atlanta Audio Society
The beauties in this recital are impossible to enumerate in a short review.
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BBC Online
...he breathes life into the music here and throughout this evocative disc.
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Audiophile.No (Norwegian)
4½ Stars
...en nesten magisk vokal strofe...der det er fokusert på en flott bredde og dybde i scenebildet...
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The Guardian
4 Stars
James Gilchrist catches those different emphases superbly
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The Scotsman
4 Stars
a deliciously fresh account
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Vaughan Williams - James Gilchrist - International Record Review


01 July 2007
International Record Review
Piers Burton-Page

Famounsly, A.E. Housman disliked music, and musical settings of his poetry. Yet, A Shropshire Lad is full of a most profound verbal music, a searing, plangent, very English melancholy that brings tears to the eyes of all but the most heart-hearted. (If you don't believe me, try an experiment: take down your copy, shut the door for half an hour, and read the 63 short poems straight through at a sitting. You'll be a different person at the end.)

Many composers have quarried Housman in the past. I have a particular soft spot for the Arthur Somervell settings - but there is no denying pride of place to the great Vaughan Williams cycle (1909) with piano and string quartet. Over the years it has received some fine recordings at the hands of almost every English tenor to note, from Peter Pears to John Mark Ainsley: over those same years I have encountered many of them, and for my money the 1971 Ian Partridge version is unsurpassed for beauty of sound and interpretative insight. However, this newcomer is very fine: James Gilchrist's voice is perhaps not hugely individual, quite ‘white' in the timbre but utterly without any sense of strain at top or bottom, the diction crystal-clear and unaffected. There is a fine musical intelligence at work too: the climax of the heart-rending song ‘Is my team ploughing?' is unerringly identified and subtly underlined at the line ‘I cheer a dead man's sweetheart', and I liked, too, the hint of irritated rebelliousness at ‘O noisy bells, be dumb' in ‘Bredon Hill'. Is the final song, ‘Clun', a touch too fast? I am note sure.

Gilchrist also scores with his coupling, another lesser-known Housman sequence for the same combination. Gurney's Ludlow and Teme I have known since acquiring the Adrian Thompson version when it first came out in 1990: an interesting note by Philip Lancaster in the new Linn recording, however, claims that this is the first performance to incorporate Gurney's many post-publication annotations and corrections, all designed, in the composer's own phrase, towards the ‘taking away of squareness'. As far as I can tell, it is mostly a matter of myriad small details rather than of major surgery, though Gurney did remove occasional whole bars. Perhaps the finest of the seven settings - I have never really felt that they add up to a cycle in the way the Vaughan Williams seems to, and nor was Gurney possessed of his predecessor's melodic gifts - is ‘Far in a western brookland', realized here by all concerned in a fine, hushed reading. The sound on this recording, incidentally, is ideal for this repertoire: intimate and natural but still with sufficient resonance and space to let the music bloom.

Peter Warlock's setting of Yeats's Curlew poems is uncharacteristically austere, and he found the ideal combination for the sparse accompaniment by replacing the piano with the flute and (particularly) cor anglais, while keeping the string quartet. Once again Gilchrist gives a most sensitive rendition: I had moments of imagining it even bleaker still, but it has all the virtues listed above. As does the final short item, an expressive setting by Bliss of words specially written by Cecil Day Lewis for a commemorative concert for the pianist Noel Mewton-Wood, who had been the soloist in the composer's Piano Concerto some years earlier. This is a most imaginative and desirable combination of some of the finest English word-setting of the last century, and offers unfailing pleasure throughout.


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