The Prince Consort - Other Love Songs - The Times
Contemporary composers credit a new generation of fearless singers with firing a boom in song cycles. The Prince Consort, founded by the pianist Alisdair Hogarth and five singing friends from the Royal College of Music, are the young Turks of the scene. Their recent song cycle, Other Love Songs, composed by Stephen Hough, examined a traditional theme of love as expressed by Brahms in his Liebeslieder, but through a new prism. The Prince Consort's next project is a reinterpretation of Schubert songs with the jazz pianist Jason Rebello. But Hogarth sees one hitch in the current cross-genre vogue - the performance. "Song cycles have that Jackanory feel; some dude at the front of a concert hall telling a story," he says. "An intimate Schubert song cycle is never going to work in the O2."
In some ways it's odd that song cycles and their pop equivalent, the concept album, should catch on with today's audiences. These great narrative arcs and thematic journeys demand our full attention for well over an hour if we're to appreciate their emotional scope. Yet within each cycle are perfect iPod nuggets of song . The song cycle - be it classical, pop or something in between - is the perfect musical form for now.