Review of Signum CD ‘On Wenlock Edge’, by Stephen Pettitt

Songs by Vaughan Williams, Gurney and Venables
Performed by Andrew Kennedy, Dante Quartet, Simon Crawford-Phillips (piano)
Sunday Times review, March 23rd, 2008
Reviewed by Stephen Pettitt
The composers represented here all set A. E. Housman’s poetry in that reflective, conservative vein we call English pastoralism. The transparence and fervent manner of Vaughan Williams’ ‘On Wenlock Edge’, written on his return from studying with Ravel, speaks of a new liberation.

His empathy with Housman’s preoccupations of death, lost love, half-swallowed bitterness and tarnished idyll is nearly matched by the suave response of his student, Ivor Gurney, to the seven similarly varied songs of Ludlow & Teme. Venables’ ‘Songs of Eternity and Sorrow’ touch unexpectedly deeply. Kennedy applies his meaty, resonant tenor intelligently and passionately. The Dante Quartet and Crawford-Phillips are equally fervent partners.