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Romantic Residues

Songs for tenor & harp
James Gilchrist (tenor), Alison Nicholls (harp)
Recording details: November 2007
St Martin's Church, East Woodhay, Berkshire, United Kingdom
Produced by Philip Hobbs
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: August 2008
Total duration: 64 minutes 43 seconds

Cover artwork: Windy Day near Blainville by Rosemary Hunt (1937-2003)
Reproduced by kind permission of Richard Townley
 
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Romantic Residues  [22'01]  Alec Roth (b1948)
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Là-bas, vers l'église  [1'48]
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Quel galant m'est comparable?  [0'48]
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Tout gai!  [0'58]
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Quand reverrai-je, hélas!  [1'06]  André Caplet (1878-1925)
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‘[Gilchrist] is now unsurpassed among lyric tenors in sweetness and technical security, and for his musical intelligence’ (The Independent).

James Gilchrist is one of the finest British tenors of today, acclaimed as a concert soloist, a recitalist and a recording artist, each latest event eliciting more rapturous comments from critics and audience alike. In his first solo disc for Hyperion, he features in a fascinating recital of English, French and American music for tenor, harp and flute.

What do we remember of our past romantic encounters? This is the theme of ‘Romantic Residues’, the opening section of Vikram Seth’s collection of verse All You Who Sleep Tonight, first published in 1990. There are nine poems in all, varying widely in content and mood—from the light and whimsical to the melancholy and dark. The songs were commissioned by the Bury St Edmunds Festival and composed for James Gilchrist and Alison Nicholls who gave the first performance. This charming, impeccably-performed collection of morceaux and mélodies also includes works by Britten, Saint-Saëns, Ravel and Fauré.

Reviews

'These are attractive works … the resources of voice and instruments are imaginatively exploited. And the performances are excellent. On the Hyperion disc Roth shares with Britten, Ravel and others, the whole working together as an unusual and delightful programme … Alison Nicholls, the fine harpist, writes informative notes for Hyperion' (Gramophone)

'Beautifully played here by Alison Nicholls. Gilchrist sounds quite at home in the Welsh songs … an interesting and intelligent singer, well served by his distinguished accompanists' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The balance between voice and instruments is good, and Gilchrist's recorded voice is present but not too close. Because of its instrumentation and the interesting choice of music, this recital is slightly off the beaten track in a very pleasant way, and listeners whose CD collections already traverse the high road of song literature will find this a worthwhile and enjoyable byway' (International Record Review)

'This wistful Anglo-French programme from the tenor James Gilchrist and the harpist Alison Nicholls offers tracks to savour … the Britten folk-song settings should never die' (The Times)

'James Gilchrist is one of the most expressive tenors of the day, his timbre soft-grained, his diction, immaculate, his lack of mannerism gratifying and his choice of repertory, on this disc of songs and song cycles with harp, interesting. Roth's Romantic Residues … is a setting of deft, touching verses by Vikram Seth, and a wonderful vehicle for Gilchrist's intimate eloquence. That quality is never more searching than in four Britten folk-song arrangements' (The Sunday Times)

'Roth has an ear for gracious, melodic vocal writing and his style is impressively cool and simple … Ravel's gorgeous Five Popular Greek Melodies … give a sense of Gilchrist's wide-ranging artistry, and also show what an excellent performer and accompanist Nicholls is on the harp' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Here's a refreshing summer issue. Tenor James Gilchrist, harpist Alison Nicholls and flautist Jaime Martin present a cocktail that has all the cool, clean refreshment of a glass of Pimms … Ravel's Cinq Mélodies populaires grecques, whose final brief 'Tout gai!' issues a warm, seasonal frisson' (The Scotsman)

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James and I have been enjoying performing together for many years now and have been thrilled by a steady stream of new works of consistently high quality and interest. Our collaboration is the fruit of worthy beginnings at a charity concert, where we were brought together for the first time by Rosemary Townley (1937–2003), whose artwork as Rosemary Hunt adorns our cover here, and to whose memory this recording is dedicated.

Alison Nicholls 2008