Customer Review

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots to enjoy but needs stronger characterisation, 2 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Most Grand To Die (James Rutherford/ Eugene Asti) (BIS: BISSACD1610) (Audio CD)
I bought this disk on the basis of a warm review in Gramophone, and share some but not all of their enthusiasm. The programme has the engaging and moving theme of the impact of the mass slaughter of the First World War on the sensibilities of a range of English composers directly involved. The opening items are more directly connected with the war; the later songs conveying a more general sense of melancholy and the fragility of life and happiness. The greater variety of the latter songs is welcome as the generally solemn and stately pace of the early items would be too much over a whole recital.

BIS's recording has an ideal balance of presence and resonance. Eugene Asti is a sympathetic and responsive accompanist, conveying equally the drama of "By a bierside" and the reflectiveness at the end of the "Songs of Travel". There is one oddity in James Rutherford's voice in the Bredon Hill songs in that his head and chest voices don't sound fully of a piece, though this is less pronounced later on. His upper voice is clear, powerful and focused, and the later songs show these qualities to advantage - in the poignant "Is my team ploughing", for example. His strongest performances are in the "Songs of Travel" where he is at his most fluent and expressive. For me, however, the songs on this disk need more than the limpid, rhapsodic quality Rutherford certainly commands. I would like more colour and characterisation in the singing, with a little more flexibility in the tempo at key points, and more of a sense of the personality behind the song - compare Bryn Terfel in this repertoire to see what I mean (or at least what I prefer).
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4.0 out of 5 stars (2 customer reviews)
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