The fine English mezzo Dame Sarah Connolly has earned a formidable reputation in early music, though she has fared equally well in music through to the present. This new recital in partnership with the attentive pianist Joseph Middleton has sent them to the stacks within the Royal College of Music, coming up with a unique and well-planned recital on the notion of ‘sleep’, from sunset to lullabies, as well as rest of a more permanent nature, and encompassing two fine setting of Yeats’ brief but oh so touching The Cloths of Heaven. Across 220 years, we are left to savour a series of fine settings of often well-known poetry from the late Tudor period to the Edwardian reveries of AE Housman by composers from Parry to Turnage.

As one would expect there is much Shakespeare (for example, Tippett’s Songs for Ariel). Judicious musical settings gloriously sung point to Connolly as a worthy successor to Janet Baker in the world of English song. There is scarcely a dud amongst 29 songs and a true partnership emerges. Here are two true investigatory collaborators rather than a famed singer and accompanist.

As the century of composition evolves, the listener is transported from rather conservative Victorian composition passing through the more harmoniously adventurous movement away from true tonality, and all are covered equally with true conviction and understanding.

Composer: Herbert, Ireland, Howells, Britten et al
Composition: English songs
Performer: Sarah Connolly ms, Joseph Middleton p
Catalogue Number: Chandos CHAN10944

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