Showing posts from August, 2022


  The flood of releases to mark the 150 th  anniversary of Vaughan Williams’ birth continues unabated – first recordings of obscure and minor works; ingenious transcriptions of familiar ones; and archive recordings of his symphonies. The title work in ‘Pan’s Anniversary’ (Soloists & Britten Sinfonia / Gould / Albion Records) ★★★ is a musical accompaniment for Ben Jonson’s masque of 1621 created to honour James I. The original music was lost and under time pressure for the outdoor premiere at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1905 Gustav Holst chipped in with some dance arrangements. In Jacobean times what mattered about masques were the elaborate costumes, dazzling special effects, stage machinery and the frisson of seeing the nobility and courtiers taking part. In purely musical terms what we have is pleasant but insubstantial fare, nicely delivered by the singers, speakers (the excellent Timothy and Sam West) chorus and orchestra under William Vann. Timothy Burke’s arrangement of the ‘Talli


  Gwyn Williams was a much-loved member of the Wilmcote and wider Stratford community. When he passed away in June 2015 St Andrew’s Church in the village was packed to overflowing for his funeral, with the service relayed to those outside in the churchyard. Since then a variety of events has raised several thousand pounds for the Gwyn Williams Bursary fund, dedicated to the memory of Gwyn, Simon Rattle’s principal viola in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Students at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire have benefitted from the legacy, and an ongoing benefice is the endowment of a viola chair for youngsters in the CBSO Youth Orchestra. Gwyn’s widow, Stephannie, tells me more about the history of the Bursary.   “After Gwyn died our daughters and I thought it would be good to have a legacy for him. We originally thought of starting a Trust Fund, but there were so many complications with the charities commission, we then decided to create a Gwyn Williams Bursary.    “As Gwyn was v

Norman Stinchcombe reviews new SOMM-Recordings

NORMAN STINCHCOMBE REVIEWS THREE NEW SOMM CDs 'On This Shining Night': Bevan, Gilchrist, Williams, Coull Quartet (Somm Recordings) ★★★★ A rare collection of 'Music for Voice and String Quartet'. So rare in fact that only two of the four composers' works here were originally in that form; a collection of Peter Warlock's songs and Sally Beamish's 'Tree Carols'. The three songs by Delius and two of the three Samuel Barber's songs were arranged by the multi-talented baritone Roderick Williams. The eleven Warlock songs are gorgeous, with Williams' baritone, soprano Sophie Bevan and tenor James Gilchrist all fitting hand-in-glove in their particular songs. Try to resist smiling at the zestful Gilchrist in the opening 'Chopcherry'. Barber's dark and pensive 'Dover Beach' is here but Williams' arrangement of 'Sure on this Shining Night', and of course his expressive singing, make this is the stand-out track. Be

Longborough double bill

LOVE ISLAND AT LONGBOROUGH The Spell Book / La Liberazione di Ruggiero Longborough Festival Opera,**** In the deathless words of Nigel Tufnell, what's wrong with being sexy? Jennie Ogilvie's Longborough production of Francesca Caccini's La Liberazione di Ruggiero (1625) places the sorceress Alcina (Lauren Joyanne Morris) and her toyboy Ruggiero (Oskar McCarthy) on a pink, high-kitsch Love Island. And once you overlook Alcina's penchant for transforming people into rubber plants, they're clearly having the time of their lives - lolling around in their candy-coloured smalls, attended by sexually-ambiguous trolley-dollies with Michael Fabricant hairpieces. Ruggiero's wife Bradamante (Simone Ibbett-Brown) is having none of it, and the plot of the opera concerns her grim-faced mission to slap Alcina down, and force Ruggiero to put his kecks back on and get back to killing people, like a proper man. And there you have it: the first known opera in th