BBC Music Magazine
"Every so often one comes across a recording which has long been available but has somehow failed to attract much notice or be widely subscribed by record stores and yet on investigation proves to be a complete revelation. Such a CD is baritone Martin Oxenham's programme of little-known songs....
Walford Davies builds a remarkably gripping little drama, which baritone Martin Oxenham seems securely inside, the whole given an enormous span by the composer's vivid handling of his forces...
On the way to Kew is charmingly done, the perfect foil underlining the singer's lightness of touch in these atmospheric songs...
It was an inspiration to dig out RVW's own chamber version of this evergreen work...
This is a most enjoyable exploration of some worthwhile repertoire not easily found elsewhere: I urge you to search it out while it is still available."
Classical Music on the Web
Browning's great poem Prospice, looking ahead to death, inspired the title of this disc.
Walford Davies's rarely performed yet astonishingly powerful setting of
Prospice for baritone with string quartet is followed by George Butterworth's Love Blows as the Wind
Blows, four lyrical and poignantly beautiful songs
to words by W.E.Henley.
Arthur Somervell's song cycle with piano,
Broken Arc, has a strong claim to be England's
answer to Dichterliebe; songs to eight of Robert Browning's best-known poems are arranged to form a tragic
yet ultimately transcendental narrative.
Farewell, Earth's Bliss
comprises six songs to words by six poets : Herbert, Dekker,
Fletcher, Shakespeare, Edwardes and Herrick. In
contrast to the lush, late-Romantic soundworlds of the
other works on this disc, Bush's writing is more akin to
that of Britten and Tippett. These songs, hitherto
virtually unsung, are certainly outstanding examples of
The disc culminates in the celebrated Five Mystical Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams. This much loved music to poems by George Herbert needs no introduction; but it is here given in the previously unrecorded version with string quartet, double bass and piano, lending an intimate spirituality sometimes lost by larger forces.
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Martin Oxenham won prizes for English Song at the Royal College of Music and has since sung at Glyndebourne, The Royal Opera House and The Coliseum. However, he is an artist who has ploughed his own musical furrow, eschewing the pursuit of an operatic career in favour of the post of "Vicar Choral" at St Paul's Cathedral. His explorations of the by-ways of English song are complemented by another passion - the exploration of England's waterways by canalboat! A one-time "youngest member of the National Youth Orchestra" ( as a tuba player) and also a graduate in Mathematics from Cambridge University, he is surely one of the more unusual and intellectually convincing musical talents around.
The booklet includes a fascinating essay by Martin