The Bliss of Solitude
A Recital of English Song
Andrew Wright – Master of Music, Brentwood Cathedral
Extract from Review by British Classical Music
……. The Bliss of Solitude is a little masterpiece and well-deserves to be known to British – I assume he is British? – music enthusiasts. Apparently, Wright has composed for the Church with a number of liturgical works to his credit including his Requiem of 2005. The present song-cycle is, for him, a step along a new path.
The first time I heard RVW’s On Wenlock Edge was on 12 October 1972. It was a radio broadcast as part of the composer’s centenary celebrations and the R.F.H. concert consisted of Job, the Eighth Symphony and the orchestral incarnation of this great song-cycle. The London Philharmonic was conducted by the venerable Sir Adrian Boult. (The tenor was Richard Lewis and a recording of the Housman work was issued on a now-deleted Intaglio CD INCD7411 Ed.) I was bowled over by all three works – but was, as they say in Yorkshire, ‘gob-smacked’ by On Wenlock Edge. A wee bit later, I heard a performance of the version for piano and string quartet. I rushed out and bought a copy of Housman’s poems as well as the LP. Both have been treasures ever since.
However, it has taken nearly forty years to (consciously) hear this work in its setting for tenor and piano only. I note that the score does suggest that the string quartet is ‘optional’: it is a case of being seriously impressed once again. Richard Dowling – a name I had not heard of before – and Joanna Smith bring a delight to this work that is sometimes lacking in better known exponents. From the opening bars of the eponymous song to the last notes of ‘Clun’ this is a beautifully stated performance. If I were to sum it up in a word it would be magical rather than histrionic. I cannot emphasise how impressed I am with this performance.