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James Forrest
Fanfare, March 2015

Spence has a beautiful lyric tenor which he uses with great facility and always to expressive ends. His diction is superb. The first five songs are reflective in character, only now and then raising the expressive temperature and requiring the soloist to push to greater interpretive or vocal reaches. The piano playing of Matthews-Owen is full partner in the musical writing, in this and the other cycles for voice and piano. He is clearly a splendid keyboard artist and this performance with Spence, and also of the following cycle on the disc, in particular, sound as though the collaborators are all but breathing together. The sixth and final song heightens drama and emotion, which serves not only to conclude the cycle effectively, but to lead appropriately into the next work. Spence’s diction is as exemplary as his vocalism. One could almost write down the texts as he sings. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review



Robert A. Moore
American Record Guide, January 2015

Imaginative settings of probing texts and engaging performances of works that place challenging demands on the performers make this an exceptional program.

All three singers are very good, particularly Spence, but the star of show is Matthews-Owen. © 2015 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Stephen J. Nereffid
Music is Good, December 2014

Top 15 New Classical of 2014: Stephen J. Nereffid

The English song tradition is alive and well, as evidenced by these four cycles, settings of texts by, respectively, the late tenor Robert Tear, Lorca, Shakespeare, and Vikram Seth. Dove’s probably best known for his operas, and these songs display the same lyricism and sensitivity. © 2014 Music in Good



Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, October 2014

…Andrew Matthews-Owen is a superlative pianist, and he is well treated by the resonant recording. Throughout these cycles one is grateful to encounter a composer whose writing for the voice, and his understanding of its technique, is so approachable. We must be grateful to Naxos for making these works available in such excellent performances. © 2014 MusicWeb International Read complete review




Richard Fairman
Gramophone, October 2014

In the unaccompanied Ariel, soprano Claire Booth starts by mimicking the sound of the sea on the shore, adds a barking dog and a cock crowing, and so completely embraces the world of The Tempest…It is a virtuoso performance, sung with sensuous beauty. Tear knew how to pen texts that would sing well and tenor Nicky Spence puts them across with Pears-like point. The other two cycles—the Lorca-based Cut My Shadow, and All You Who Sleep Tonight on short poems by Vikram Seth—fall to mezzo Patricia Bardon. Her singing is all earth and fire in the brief Lorca cycle but All You Who Sleep Tonight, sensuous and playful, is carried to an ecstatic climax on waves of minimalist rhythmic energy… © 2014 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Mark Sealey
Classical Net, September 2014

On this thrilling and satisfying CD from Naxos a collection of representative works by British composer Jonathan Dove leave the listener in no doubt that [his song-writing] is bristling with energy and red blood. Each [work] is performed with great conviction and aplomb by the singers and pianist here.

It is to the credit of the three singers here and pianist Andrew Matthews-Owen that they completely understand the delicate balance between pushing an object into motion and guiding it throughout the course of its natural vector. Then they pull their hands away; and leave us wanting more. Equally noteworthy is the extent to which pianist and singer create almost orchestral sonorities…

Recommended not only as an emblem of how successful and apposite British songwriting is, but as substantial music in its own right. © 2014 Classical Net Read complete review




Terry Blain
BBC Music Magazine, September 2014

Elan, intelligence and passionate engagement: Scottish tenor Nicky Spence brings it ail to his exemplary performance of Out of Winter

Andrew Matthews-Owen is an immaculate accompanist, showing a particularly clean pair of fingers in the dashing virtuosity of Song III.

The unaccompanied Ariel, setting five movements from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, is like opera without the orchestra, and soprano Claire Booth shows a technical accomplishment comparable to Spence’s in meeting its many challenges.

…this is a richly stimulating recital. © 2014 BBC Music Magazine



Charles T. Downey
Ionarts, August 2014

This new release brings together four of [Dove’s] song cycles…Out of Winter…[has] themes of late-life regret and the insignificance of human life in the grand sweep of time. Britten-style tenor Nicky Spence…sings it with bittersweet sincerity. In Cut My Shadow…Dove uses an accompaniment that mimics the sound of strummed guitar and the rhythms of castanets. Mezzo–soprano Patricia Bardon gives the cutting melodic line a bristling energy…and Andrew Matthews-Owen provides sensitive support at the piano.

[In Ariel]…Soprano Claire Booth acquits herself well…for the songs have no accompaniment. Dove includes some interesting effects, like the sound of whistling wind or the crash of waves on the shore…All You Who Sleep Tonight…[has] much of it witty epigrams in sing–songy quatrain form. Dove makes them into pleasing miniatures, with a substantial…whiff of Broadway and a conclusion that is both tragic and reaffirming. © 2014 Ionarts Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2014

Following in the footsteps of Benjamin Britten, Jonathan Dove has become the UK’s most resourceful and successful composer of operas and song cycles. Working in a world wedded to tonality, he has the remarkable gift of writing for the voice in a way that is both fresh and invigorating, yet keeping within the bounds of musical traditions. Ariel takes its words from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and were intended to be sung by the magical character, Ariel, to which Dove has added words that Shakespeare did not intended for singing. Scored for unaccompanied soprano, there are atmospheric silences in this stunningly brilliant and beautiful performance from Claire Booth. All You Who Sleep Tonight is to words by Vikram Seth that are often disturbing, such as the penultimate song, Soon, where the dying person begs not to be left alone. Dove had in mind a singer equally at home in cabaret as in the recital room. Here we have Patricia Bardon an opera singer who convinces in her handling of words. Nicky Spence is the tenor soloist in Out of Winter, Dove giving the pianist a most interesting role throughout the three cycles, and Andrew Matthews-Owen obviously enjoys them. Sound quality is exceptionally good. © 2014 David’s Review Corner



Andrew Clark
Financial Times, July 2014

This delightful anthology demonstrates that the composer is heir to the 20th-century English song tradition © 2014 Financial Times





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