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Track(s) taken from CDA67778

Um Mitternacht

1959/60; published in 1994
author of text

Gerald Finley (baritone), Julius Drake (piano)
Recording details: December 2008
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: June 2010
Total duration: 3 minutes 41 seconds

Cover artwork: The Tyger (plate 42 from Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy AA, P.125-1950.pt42) (c1815/26) by William Blake (1757-1827)
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge / Bridgeman Art Library, London

Other recordings available for download

Mark Padmore (tenor), Roger Vignoles (piano)
Ian Bostridge (tenor), Graham Johnson (piano)
Mark Padmore (tenor), Iain Burnside (piano)


'Finley as ever acquits himself as a fine singer, a conscientious artist and a thoroughly reliable musician … Julius Drake is the superb pianist' (Gramophone)

'Fischer-Dieskau's recording from 1965 carries massive authority, but this new recording tops it … everythng [Finley] sings has a feeling of emotional truth, without any artfulness. That's a great asset in these songs … Finley makes Blake's aphorisms ring out with the force of an Old Testament prophet' (The Daily Telegraph)

'If you want to know, or simply need reminding, why Gerald Finley is up there in the Premier League of baritone recitalists then strike out for the final five songs on this magnificent new recording … [Songs and Proverbs of William Blake] originally written for Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Finley proves himself the equal of his noble predecessor, both in expressivity and emotional weight. How good it is to have this difficult music available in such a fine modern performance … it is a mark of the quality of these two fine artists that everything on this new release should sound newly minted' (International Record Review)

'Gerald Finley sings them all with such an unwaveringly beautiful tone and attention to every syllable, and pianist Julian Drake is so wonderfully attuned to the baritone's inflections … Finley comes into his own in the final Every Night and Every Morn, and Drake's handling of the powerfully wrought accompaniments is superb. Those who have followed them through their series of 20th-century songs for Hyperion (Barber, Ives, Ravel previously) won't be disappointed with this one either' (The Guardian)

'The Canadian baritone has already impressed with his outstanding diction in three albums of North American song for Hyperion. Now he turns to the repertoire that Britten wrote for two of his favourite baritones: Songs and Proverbs of William Blake (Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau) and Tit for Tat (John Shirley-Quirk) … Tit for Tat displays the young composer's prodigious melodic gift and his savour of words. Finley's noble baritone is a richer-coloured instrument than Shirley-Quirk's … in the Blake settings, Finley naturally sounds more at home with the English texts than Fischer-Dieskau ever did … Finley's watchwords are directness and clarity, both of which come across to splendid effect in the folk-song arrangements … Drake is his admirable partner in this outstanding enterprise' (The Sunday Times)

'This marvellous CD showcases the songs Britten wrote for the baritones Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, John Shirley-Quirk and Benjamin Luxon—music that Finley, at the peak of his very considerable powers, makes his own with the pianist Julius Drake … Finley lends it [Songs and Proverbs of William Blake] the very beauty and intelligence and ecstatic vocalism it needs, without the mannerisms of Fischer-Dieskau' (Financial Times)
Britten’s setting of Goethe’s ‘Um Mitternacht’ (published in 1994) was probably composed in 1959, shortly after the composer’s strong interest in German poetry had borne fruit in his tenor song-cycle Sechs Hölderlin-Fragmente. At this time, Pears was enjoying an enviable reputation as one of the leading exponents of Lieder in the world, repeatedly earning ecstatic reviews in the German press that inspired the BBC to capitalize on this success by carefully promoting his and Britten’s work in Germany.

from notes by Mervyn Cooke © 2010

La mise en musique du goethéen «Um Mitternacht» (publiée en 1994) date probablement de 1959, peu après que le vif intérêt de Britten pour la poésie allemande eut porté ses fruits dans un cycle de lieder pour ténor, Sechs Hölderlin-Fragmente. À cette époque, Pears avait l’enviable réputation de compter parmi les plus grands apôtres mondiaux du lied, s’attirant à plusieurs reprises les critiques extatiques de la presse allemande—d’où l’idée de la BBC d’exploiter ce succès en se faisant le promoteur attentif de son travail et de celui de Britten en Allemagne.

extrait des notes rédigées par Mervyn Cooke © 2010
Français: Hypérion

Brittens 1994 veröffentlichte Vertonung von Goethes „Um Mitternacht“ entstand wahrscheinlich 1959, kurz nachdem Brittens starkes Interesse an deutscher Lyrik seinen Ausdruck in dem Tenorliederzyklus Sechs Hölderlin-Fragmente gefunden hatte. Zu dieser Zeit war Pears als führender Liederinterpret weltberühmt und erhielt regelmäßig die lobendsten Kritiken in der deutschen Presse, was die BBC veranlasste, diesen Erfolg durch sorgfältige Förderung des Schaffens von Britten und Pears in Deutschland nutzbar zu machen.

aus dem Begleittext von Mervyn Cooke © 2010
Deutsch: Henning Weber

Other albums featuring this work

Britten: Britten Abroad
SIGCD122Download only
Britten: The Red Cockatoo & other songs
Britten, Finzi & Tippett: Songs
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