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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 11 January 2005
It is difficult to find fault with this release 'Silent Noon' which amply demonstrates Terfel's wide range of vocal colour. The combination of one of the world's most popular and characterful voices together with an interesting and attractive selection of English Songs make for an outstanding recital. This is Terfel's second disc of English Songs, the first being a critically acclaimed, award winning recording from 1995 entitled 'The Vagabond' that features songs by Ireland, Vaughan Williams, Butterworth and Finzi on Deutsche Grammophon 445 946-2. This recital entitled 'Silent Noon' takes its name from the celebrated song of the same name by Vaughan Williams and also includes settings by Quilter, Gurney, Somervell, Warlock et al. Perhaps the popular success of The Vagabond has given Deutsche Grammophon the confidence to break away from the mainstream by including several songs by lesser known composers: Frederick Keel, Dilys Elwyn-Edwards and Michael Head. On a personal note I would have preferred more settings from my favourite and masters of the English art-song tradition: Warlock, Bridge, Delius, Bantock, especially Gurney and also Elgar who was a less prolific song-setter. Nevertheless this 'Silent Noon' song recital which includes several surprises is also a delightful and fascinating one.
In addition to Terfel's renowned rich, oak hued and sonorous voice his performances particularly in the genre of Opera demonstrate to best advantage the outstanding dramatic power of his voice. The majority of these songs are of a softer, more joyous or poignant nature however Terfel's vocal strength and characterful performance is expertly displayed in several of the settings namely Keel's 'Mother Carey' and Somervell's 'The street sounds to the soldiers' tread' and 'On the idle hill of summer'.
Friends and family remarked on the clarity of Terfel's diction on this release; an attribute that is easy to take for granted together with his almost watertight control. However, no one, Terfel included, is without their idiosyncrasies. I am conscious of the bass-baritone's tendency to place only a modest emphasis on the pronunciation of his word endings and a habit to sometimes roll his R's; which some may find irritating. The only other blemish of note for me in this recital is the wobble in 'Head's Money, O!' which seems to be the setting that Terfel is least comfortable in.
Terfel's dynamic range is quite superb as he can float delicately and effortlessly like a seagull on a thermal as in Gurney's 'Sleep' and Parry's 'Love is a Bable' and build up with an organic power akin to a volcano erupting such as that can be heard in Quilter's 'Blow, blow, thou winter wind'.
In Britten's popular folksong arrangement, 'The foggy, foggy dew' Terfel's presence and personality sparkle through and it is easy to see why he has achieved such remarkable popularity with audiences. My particular favourite songs are those of Gurney's 'Sleep', Vaughan Williams' 'Silent noon' and 'Linden lea' together with Quilter's 'Now sleep the crimson petal' which all convey the gentle beauty and poignancy of the settings with a consummate sensitivity and expressiveness that sent a shiver down my spine. One could not ask for any more of the piano accompanist Malcolm Martineau who displays a remarkable affinity with the music and seems to breath as one with Terfel.

For me this excellent Terfel recital seems to conclude unsatisfactorily and in rather a flat mood. Ideally the selection of a more up-beat concluding song would have offered a more stirring climax such as Gurney's 'Ha'nacker Mill', Parry's 'No longer mourn for me' or Warlock's 'Passing by'.
The sound quality I found to be first class, well balanced and most naturally recorded. The annotation which includes full texts is of a high standard although it is annoying not to have the tracks listed numerically on the rear of the jewel-case and to have to take out the booklet and look inside to identify each song.
It is a privilege to hear such a glorious voice in this wonderful repertoire of English song and I look forward to another volume from Bryn Terfel in the future. A quite superb release.
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on 21 December 2005
In this follow up recording to "The Vagabond", Terfel and Martineau returns to a repertoire, that is much overlooked. I am not British, and apart from Britten's Folksong Arrangments, I hadn't heard any of this music before.
Much respect must go out to both singer and pianist in the delivery of these songs. They are treated with the utmost respect and love, and even the two nonsense songs by Stanford that round off this selection are performed with respect and dignity.
Bryn Terfel has a BIG voice, and even though his tone is BIG and dramatic, it's never out of place. He reads the music in a dramatic, rather than a lyrical way, but that's what you'd expect from the man. He isn't Fritz Wunderlich or even Fischer-Dieskau. If you buy a Terfel record rather than a record from the oter two gentlemen, be prepared for a BIG sound, even though I personally think that he has mellowed out a bit since The Vagabond.
His delivery of the lyrics and understanding of the storyline in these songs is unbeatable. The only time I find, that he goes a bit overboard is in Brittens "Foggy, Foggy Dew", which he smothers in sighs, dramatic breaths and "funny" intonation. Otherwise the delivery is superb.
A small note on his diction: I don't know, why he pronounces Wind in "Blow, Blow thou Winter Wind" as wind (to wind somethig up, for instance). That and a few other places left me a bit puzzled, but that may be down to the fact, that I don't know enough about English pronunciation. Oh... and the rolling R's are back :-) I love it, some don't...
This is a genius record. If you have any interest in English song, this is a must have. If you don't care about the likes of Frederick Keel and Drofnatski, you will after hearing this record. Buy now...
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on 26 October 2009
This must be as good a recording of Housman's "A Shropshire Lad" as any. Here we have the Somervell sequence - published in 1904 and the only one to attempt a genuine narrative structure. There are other gems here too and it is unlikely anyone will listen to Dilys Elwyn-Edwards version of "The Cloths of Heaven" without misty eyes. The pairing of Bryn Terfel and Martin Martineau cannot be bettered and this is a recording that can be recommended without hesitation.
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on 11 April 2010
This is the finest recital disc that I have ever heard from Bryn Terfel and possibly the best recital disc of English song by anyone. It is just stunningly beautiful and dramatic by turns. The clarity of diction and the care for word meaning and interpretation is just masterly. As well as familiar songs there are many far less well known songs included here which are equally beautiful. Bryn does these songs a great service both in performance and by bringing them to the attention of a wider public. Trade Winds by Frederick Keel, which I had never heard before is just lovely as is the setting of 'The Cloths of Heaven' by the veteran Welsh composer Dilys Elwyn-Edwards. For me the recital is crowned by my favourite setting of poems from 'A Shrophire Lad' here performed in the first ever setting by Arthur Somervell, which is still the best of all in my view. What drama, attention to word meaning and sheer beauty Bryn brings to this wonderful song cycle.
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on 30 April 2011
Wonderful singing by Bryn Terfel. The Shakespeare songs are moving and settings of poems by Housman and other poets are outstanding.
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on 26 November 2012
This is a first class CD by Bryn Terfel and Malcolm Martineau (piano). Good selection of songs thoughtfully compiled and sensitively interpreted.
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on 24 March 2015
Great cd will defiantly be buying more .
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on 29 April 2013
Beautifully sung, excellent voice... this CD is just fantastic. I prefer it to all other versions I've heard so far.
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on 5 November 2014
I'm a big fan of Bryn and am pleased with this purchase.
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on 31 January 2016
v good
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