Review: Celebrating English Song / Roderick Williams / Susie Allan / English Song

Launched last week, SOMM’s latest release features the exquisite pairing of baritone Roderick Williams and pianist Susie Allan in a ravishing selection of English song by Britten, Butterworth, Finzi and Vaughan Williams.

I can’t recommend this recording enough. Some tracks in particular grabbed my attention.

The atmosphere created by Susie Allan at the keyboard is deftly maintained by Williams’ warm delicacy who creates something electric right from the start of Butterworth’s 6 Songs for a Shropshire Lad. Just be sure to approach Is My Team Ploughing when you’re sure you’re emotionally stable – a painfully touching listen.

John Ireland’s uplifting Great Things is the perfect contrast before a sequence of heady introspection. Vaughan Williams’ mellow Silent Noon is another favourite on this album. Everything sounds breathtakingly effortless, both at the keyboard and in the voice – a rare recording achievement discernible even through laptop speakers.

Benjamin Britten’s The Salley Gardens is a triumph in simplicity and focus. But be warned, the final track – Ivor Gurney’s Sleep – will break your heart.

Quite an incredible listen from beginning to end.