This enthralling new recording from Mark Padmore and Roger Vignoles finds its emotional heart in the theme of youth, and in particular the passage of time inherent in this all-too-transient phase of human existence.
Opening with Boyhood’s End by Sir Michael Tippett (whose centenary falls in 2005), we are transported through Gerald Finzi’s wondrous A Young Man’s Exhortation—to the poetry of Thomas Hardy—to three rarely performed works by Benjamin Britten. Who are these children?, twelve songs to words by William Soutar, is a fascinating response to the themes of innocent childhood (the ‘Scottish’ songs) and the tragic loss of this childhood (the ‘English’ songs—written as a reaction to war-time photographs published in 1941).
The Sechs Hölderlin-Fragemente have been neglected on the concert platform, not least because they are rare in Britten’s song output as being in German. The music owes something to its composer’s love of the lieder of Hugo Wolf. Um Mitternacht is Britten’s only setting of Goethe. There is some evidence that a cycle was planned, but in the event this single song had to wait till 1994 before it was published as part of the collection A Red Cockatoo & other songs.
Roger Vignoles sensitively brings life to the piano accompaniments beneath the ardent tenor of Mark Padmore, as performances and programme combine to create a most satisfying recital.