The Prince Consort - Other Love Songs - The Guardian

Listening to Brahms's Liebeslieder Walzer and his Neues Liebeslieder in quick succession may be just too much of a good thing; their sentimentality and folksy charm quickly cloy, even in such fresh-toned performances by the five singers of the Prince Consort, with Philip Fowke and the group's usual pianist Alisdair Hogarth the duet accompanists. So it was a bright idea of the group to ask Stephen Hough to compose a song cycle for the same lineup to separate the two helpings of Brahms, and perhaps to provide some palate-cleansing astringency. Hough selects eight poems from a variety of sources, from St John's Gospel and Julian of Norwich to AE Housman and Langston Hughes, to exemplify a much wider range of kinds of love, from religious to fraternal, and sets them with a Ned Rorem-like eclecticism of style and mood. The sequence is perfectly judged, wittily allusive and serves its purpose perfectly. I suspect, in fact, that most who buy the disc will listen to Hough's songs more than the Brahms that flanks them.

23 June 2011