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Benjamin Britten’s Scottish Songs (Complete)
A Birthday Hansel / Who are these Children? / 4 Burns Songs

Lucy Wakeford, Mark Wilde, David Owen Norris

Naxos 8.572706 [75 mins]

- - the title poem of Britten's last song cycle, Who are these children? - - is to Britten vividly symbolic of wrenching themes that seemed both to disturb his senses and stir his creative energy his whole life- - These songs to poems by Scottish poet William Soutar leave us with unforgettable impressions and questions. Pears' performance of the 12 songs, with Britten at the piano at Aldeburgh in 1971 is another gem. And it's the only one available. (Unfortunately, no texts are provided - - an unacceptable omission (ClassicsToday)

The most rewarding Britten compilation I have heard in years, numerous fully characteristic mature songs which have never got firmly into the regular repertoire; many of them unfamiliar to me, brought together in high quality recording and convenient presentation.

Benjamin Britten’s A Birthday Hansel with harp, to texts by Robert Burns, was his final song-cycle.

Who are these children? is a major late cycle to poems by William Soutar, bringing together darkly dramatic musical depictions of wartime life with protest songs revisiting the composer’s youth. There are later settings of three of the Burns poems arr. Colin Matthews, making for 34 tracks in all, a real treasure.

Scottish tenor Mark Wilde has the measure of it all. I like his direct manner and timbre and he has the huge advantage of being a native Scot.

The texts (complete with glossary of translations into English !) are essential accompaniments for listening; print them out from the Naxos website and enjoy the recital in comfort with your best quality sound.

Peter Grahame Woolf