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CD Review

Ivor Gurney

Severn Meadows

Paul Agnew, tenor
Julius Drake, piano
Hyperion CDA67243 71m DDD
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The story of Ivor Gurney's tragic life is remarkably reflected in his songs, all of them small masterpieces of grief and paeans of emotion that defy any debasement. Here, we have some of his most beautiful and creative compositions, all filled with a deep sense of mastery and intimate reflections on Gurney's circle of friends, which gradually disappeared as the Great War took most of them away.

'You are my Sky' contains some touching lyrics whilst 'By a Bierside' and 'Severn Meadows' explores the composer's ramblings in the stupendous Georgian countryside. The Five Elizabethan Songs are typical examples of Gurney's capabilities to transform age old poetry into something beautifully avant-garde, however without any singular loss of melody especially in the touchingly luxuriant, 'Sleep', a solace for the broken hearted.

Of the final songs in this collection, I would single out 'The Cloths of Heaven' and 'I will go with my father a-ploughing', both singular representations of the composer's nostalgic views towards life. Gurney was to die insane about 15 years after he composed these songs and it is all the more tragic to note what we have missed when hearing such loveliness.

Paul Agnew and Julius Drake are faithful adherents to the music and turn out constantly beautiful interpretations. I would not deter from acquiring such a wonderfissue, especially for the song lover.

Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech

Trumpet