Sometime I Sing

sometime I singSometime I Sing is a CD of music for tenor and guitar by Alec Roth performed by Mark Padmore and Morgan Szymanski.  The most substantial work is My Lute and I which sets nine poems by 16th century poet and courtier Sir Thomas Wyatt.  There’s a definite attempt here to evoke the lute with the result that the guitar part is quite muted,  The texts are fairly conventional love poetry of the period and there’s a fair bit of melodic invention in the vocal line.  For some reason “How?” is largely set to the tune of “The Seeds of Love”. Padmore sings very clearly and beautifully in a characteristically English way.  So pleasant to listen to but not very exciting.

There are four settings of works by Vikram Seth; Dark Night and Night Songs (“The Gift”, “Heart” and “You Who Sleep Tonight”).  For me this is the best part of the album.  The texts are interesting and there’s more of a partnership between voice and guitar.  There are some interesting heartbeat effects from the guitar in “Heart”.

There’s also a guitar solo and settings of a couple of poems by John Donne and Edward Thomas which are OK.  The album finishes up with arrangements of five well known English folksongs.  I’m afraid these are everything I dislike about classical composers messing with traditional folk.  They are sanitised and twee and sung in a sort of arch manner that really doesn’t work.  Give me the bite and willingness to give full play to the piano of Britten’s arrangements anytime, though frankly I’m happier when this material is left to people with some sense of the idiom.

The recording is detailed.  You can hear all the incidental noises and effects from the guitar but the guitar is quite backward relative to the voice.  I suspect this is realistic and may even be what the composer was aiming for.  Many people though, I feel, will wish that the recording engineer had given the guitar a bit more prominence.  It’s available as a physical CD, MP3 or CD quality FLAC and there’s a booklet but my copy had it missing.  Not an issue with the comprehensibility of the texts as Padmore has excellent diction.

I could imagine listening to the Wyatt and Seth tracks again when I wanted something late night and contemplative.  Otherwise I found it a bit dull.

Catalogue number: Signum Classics SIGCD332

2 thoughts on “Sometime I Sing

  1. I was getting all excited – “Mark Padmore sings Thomas Wyatt! Christmas presents!” and then it turned out you didn’t really recommend it. Hm. Maybe I’ll buy one and see if I like it before deciding whether to spread it further.

    Though now I’m wondering what Robert Wyatt could do with Thomas Wyatt.

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