Album: Britten, Before Life and After, (Harmonia Mundi)

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The Independent Culture

Mark Padmore's grave concentrate of text and tone is artfully shadowed by Roger Vignoles in this recording of "Winter Words" and "The Holy Sonnets of John Donne". Britten's Hardy settings segue into a clever selection of folk songs.

In the Donne, Padmore highlights the obsessiveness of the writing. After John Adams's recent setting of "Batter my heart", Britten's seems as dated and histrionic as his Purcell arrangements, three of which are featured here. The beauty of "Since she whom I loved" is, however, timeless.