Barry Millington, Evening Standard
Roderick Williams/Julius Drake, review: A chance to hear some less familiar gems
The baritone Roderick Williams has sung Schubert’s Winterreise in both German and English, but has long specialised in the English repertory. It was a logical step, therefore, to come up with An English Winter Journey – namely a sequence of English songs that traces a similar arc to that of Schubert’s cycle.
There are many neat parallels. The ambulatory Gute Nacht that opens Winterreise is mirrored here by the striding rhythms of Vaughan Williams’ The Vagabond, while the cantering triplets of Schubert’s Die Post become a speeding train in Britten’s Midnight on the Great Western.
While not denying himself the opportunity to offer a handful of favourites – Butterworth’s The Lads in their Hundreds, Vaughan Williams’ Linden Lea and Whither must I Wander?, for example – the English Winter Journey concept also allowed us to hear some less familiar gems. Five of Ivor Gurney’s inspired settings were included: Sleep and Lights Out were both movingly projected by the singer, their melting harmonies sensitively unfolded by pianist Julius Drake.