A Shropshire Lad: English Songs Orchestrated and Performed by Roderick Williams
This album represents the culmination of what leading British baritone Roderick Williams described as ‘a dream come true’. It features premiere recordings of his orchestrations of songs by Vaughan Williams and other composers associated with him and is released to commemorate those who perished in WWI.
Featuring orchestrations by Williams of his favourite songs from the 20th-Century English repertoire this album contains works by Vaughan Williams and composers associated with him. It includes specially commissioned new arrangements of songs by women composers Ina Boyle, Ruth Gipps, Madeleine Dring and Rebecca Clarke.
The album features the work of composers who were killed in the First World War, George Butterworth, William Denis Browne and Ernest Farrar and is released to coincide with Remembrance Day. These songs portray the composers’ evocative responses to the poetry they set, and Williams’s orchestrations further convey the songs meaning through highly effective use of orchestral instruments and textures.
Roderick Williams OBE is one of Britain’s most sought-after baritones and is constantly in demand on the concert platform and in recital, encompassing a repertoire from the baroque to world premieres. In 2016 he won the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Singer of the year award. He is also a composer and has had works premiered at the Wigmore and Barbican Halls, the Purcell Room and live on national radio. He was awarded an OBE for services to music in June 2017.
"As well as being one of Britain's leading baritones, Roderick Williams is also a composer, mainly of much admired choral music. The twin tracks of his career come together in this collection, in which Williams is the soloist in 21 songs by British composers that he has orchestrated for the Hallé. At the heart of it are two cycles, George Butterworth's Songs from AE Houseman's A Shropshire Lad, and Ralph Vaughan Williams's The House of Life. The orchetration is as perceptive as one would expect from a musician who interprets them with such finesse. Williams's performances are a reminder that no other singer today inhabits this repertoire so completely and movingly, every word perfect, every phrase exactly weighted." Andrew Clements, The Guardian
"The melodic contours of English song flow through Williams's veines. He modulates them beautifully, drawing on a career-long experience of how to pace and shade them." BBC Music Magazine
"I could sing the praises of virtually everything on this album which – in short – I absolutely loved." Bernard Hughes, theartsdesk.com [read complete review]
As a passionate interpreter of English art song and a composer to boot, there are surely few people better placed to orchestrate the songs on this recording than British baritone Roderick Williams. There is his deep acquaintance with the repertoire as performed with its original piano accompaniments. There is his love of and respect for the English language. Finally, there is his long experience singing with orchestras, all the while savouring the splendid variety of colours in which composers choose to clothe the words. Continue reading
Limelight, Music, arts and culture. Will Yeoman