PETER WARLOCK: Choral Music – Rachel Haworth, organ/ The Carice Singers/ George Parris – Naxos

PETER WARLOCK: Choral Music [TrackList follows] – Rachel Haworth, organ/ The Carice Singers/ George Parris – Naxos 8.573227, 72:09 ****:

If this album demonstrates anything, it’s the debt owned by Philip Heseltine (aka Peter Warlock) to the music of Frederick Delius. Warlock called Delius’s music a “melody of chords”, and as the notes point out, this description could just as easily be assigned to Warlock’s idiom. Though he wrote in a number of genres, his instrumental output is quite small though noteworthy, but his real genius lies in the creation of songs, possessing a natural talent quite akin to that of Schubert in its lilting and effortless sense of line. It almost didn’t happen—there was an early period after the composer’s stint at Eton College where his composing activity went into stasis, and when he finally got serious about it again after three or four years the Delius influence did begin to wane a bit. Though there was an increasing fascination with Elizabethan-age music and especially British folksong—how could he avoid it in that day and age?—the Delius harmonies and sense of choral wash merge seamlessly with his own more linear and innate melodies to make a song repertory of great value, one that was appreciated by the public from the beginning.

The pieces on this disc are for chorus and for solo singer, the latter arranged into full choral works. The Carice Singers, named after the daughter of Edward Elgar, are a recently formed group—2011—young singers drawn from various conservatories and universities across the UK. George Parris is their founder, and leads them in performances of spirit and delightful subtlety of dynamic range and expression. St. Peter’s Church in Warwickshire, UK, provides the most accommodating setting for this recording.

TrackList:

The full heart; Ha’nacker Mill; The night; My own country; The spring of the year; Three dirges of John Webster; As dew in Aprylle; The five lesser joys of Mary; The rich cavalcade; The birds; Corpus Christi; Benedicamus Domino; Adam lay ybounden; Three carols; I saw a fair maiden; Carillon carilla; Benneth Nadelik ha’n Bledhan Nowedh; Where riches is everlastingly; Bethlehem Down; What cheer? Good cheer!; A Cornish Christmas Carol

—Steven Ritter

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