For his solo debut on disc, William Berger has devised an ingenious sequence of 17 songs describing a sleepless night experienced by a man who reflects on his love for an unnamed woman. From Viennese classicism to fin-de-siècle Romanticism, shadowy English pastoral to the contemporary worlds of Richard Rodney Bennett and Raymond Yiu, this wide-ranging programme is brought to nuanced life by this outstanding young baritone. The indefatigable Iain Burnside provides lucid and imaginative accompaniment. Together, their performances vividly capture the full gamut of nocturnal emotions. A graduate and Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in London, Berger is a former member of the Young Singers Programme at English National Opera. Recent engagements include singing Aeneas to Susan Graham's Dido, on tour in California, and his recital debut at the Lucerne International Festival. Pianist Iain Burnside has forged a worldwide reputation through his commitment to song repertoire and his collaborations with leading international singers.
DEVISED as a programme for the Lucerne Festival, Baritone William Berger s Insomnia: A Nocturnal Voyage in Song plays out its chronological narrative songs depicting specific hours of a sleepless night with logical and psychological inevitability. This pleasant insomniac experience kicks off at a notional 7.30pm with Mozart s dusky Abendempfindung, goes all twilight with Debussy s Nuit d étoiles and Fauré s Claire de lune, hits the midnight hour with Wolf s reflective Um Mitternacht, beyond which the all-night Lieder journey leads all the way to Strauss s delicious Morgen. Berger sustains a magnetic affection throughout the varied sequence, aided by Iain Burnside s deft pianism. There are even a couple of built-in encores. --The Scotsman