As a passionate interpreter of English art song and a composer to boot, there are surely few people better placed to orchestrate the songs on this recording than British baritone Roderick Williams. There is his deep acquaintance with the repertoire as performed with its original piano accompaniments. There is his love of and respect for the English language. Finally, there is his long experience singing with orchestras, all the while savouring the splendid variety of colours in which composers choose to clothe the words.

A Shropshire Lad

The start of the 20th century saw a great blossoming of English song, the likes of which had not been seen since Dowland’s time. Inspired variously by English poetry, a renewed interest in native folksong and continental romantic music, composers such as Ralph Vaughan Williams, George Butterworth, Roger Quilter, Gerald Finzi, Ivor Gurney, John Ireland enthusiastically embraced the expressive possibilities of solo voice and piano.

Vaughan Williams is represented here by The House of Life, exquisite settings of six sonnets by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The music of four women composers associated with Vaughan Williams, including Ruth Gipps...