Composer Hugh Wood is known for his powerfully communicative and lyrical music and this latest release presents a selection of songs spanning his career. They are set to poems by DH Lawrence, Robert Graves, Laurie Lee and Lawrence Durrell, exploring themes of youth, love, lust and longing.
Wild Cyclamen (2006) – a song-cycle from twelve individual, unrelated poems by Robert Graves – depicts the rise and fall of a love affair. Hugh Wood explains: “Graves wrote no such cycle but I’ve dared to construct one. It doesn’t achieve too strong a story-line, but the songs are meant to be sung in a fixed order”.
The DH Lawrence settings (1998) include three poems Lawrence wrote about his days with Frieda in Bavaria and the Isles of Greece (2007) – written for and dedicated to baritone Roderick Williams and pianist Iain Burnside – is a compilation of poems celebrating various aspects of Greek life and its people.
The earliest works on this recording are the Laurie Lee Songs (1956-58) written when Hugh was in his mid twenties.
Clare McCaldin mezzo-soprano
James Gilchrist tenor
Roderick Williams baritone
Iain Burnside piano
Simon Lepper piano
‘(Hugh Woods) vocal lines are always skilful amplifications of the text while his idiomatically written piano parts set the voice off to its best advantage.’ BBC Music Magazine
‘They are all scrupulously performed here, with Clare McCaldin engaged in the Laurie Lee settings, Roderick Williams offering precise and sentient articulation in The Isles of Greece, and James Gilchrist seeking out the tensions of Wild Cyclamen and the DH Lawrence settings … Iain Burnside and Simon Lepper are both excellent as always’ BBC Music Magazine
‘There is nothing ordinary or expected in the sixty-four minutes of Wild Cyclamen … Representing a wide swath of Wood’s compositional career, the songs on Wild Cyclamen disclose the voice of a creative spirit clearly acquainted with the songs of Finzi, Quilter, Britten, and Tippett, influenced and perhaps even inspired by them, but compellingly individual.’ Voix Des Arts
‘The five Laurie Lee Songs come over with a post-Brittenish freshness … It’s from Grave’s poems that Wood has forged the striking 12-song cycle.’ The Sunday Times
The Isles of Greece was recorded at the Michael Tippett Centre, Bath Spa University on 8 February 2014; the Laurie Lee Songs were recorded at All Saints Church, East Finchley, London on 17 June 2014, and DH Lawrence Songs and Wild Cyclamen at the same venue on 17-18 November 2014.
Recording Producer/ Engineer DAVID LEFEBER
Digital Editing & Mastering DAVID LEFEBER