War's Embers draws its title from composer-poet Ivor Gurney's second volume of poetry written at the Front. Conceived by Joy Finzi, the widow of composer Gerald Finzi, it features songs by composers who fought in World War I with the exception of Finzi whose teacher Ernest Farrar died two months before the war ended. The 2-CD collection features Farrar, Gurney, George Butterworth, Denis Browne and Frederick Kelly, the latter two being friends of the poet Rupert Brooke. Brooke died on the way to Gallipoli where Browne was killed in June 1915. This important recording brings together a fine collection of songs, including four by Denis Browne whose reputation stands on this handful of songs. (There are others that might some day be recorded). For many years it was assumed that Ivor Gurney, who spent the last 15 years of his life in an asylum, was a shell-shocked victim of the war. This is not true. Gurney suffered from a severe manic-depressive disorder that had first shown symptoms when he was in his teens. He actually flourished during the war, writing four songs that are considered masterpieces (listen to In Flanders, By A Bierside, Severn Meadows and Even such is Time), producing enough poetry for two volumes of poetry and writing hundreds of letters to his friends, primarily to musicologist-critic Marion Scott. George Butterworth, who was killed in the Battle of the Somme, was a good friend of Ralph Vaughan Williams. Finzi is represented by Only A Man Harrowing Clods (a setting of Thomas Hardy) from his Requiem da Camera, which he wrote in memory of Farrar. The performances by Martyn Hill, tenor, Stephen Varcoe, baritone, and Michael George are excellent and heartfelt. Hill was one of the first singers to record Gurney's songs. War's Embers is a must-buy CD for anyone interested in 20th English song.