Songs by Hamilton Harty
Songs by Hamilton Harty with Kathryn Rudge and Christopher Glynn on Somm Recordings is now available.
Although best known today as a composer of orchestral music, Hamilton Harty was also one of the most accomplished accompanists of his generation. It prompted, in turn, his increasing activity as an accomplished song writer. The 23 featured songs include settings that speak eloquently of Harty’s abiding engagement with his Irish heritage and point, in the technical demands made of vocalist and pianist alike, to his innate understanding of the song form in all its concentrated, emotional power.
Favourite Harty songs such as Sea Wrack, The Blue Hills of Antrim and My Lagan Love are heard alongside settings of Walt Whitman (By the Bivouac’s Fitful Flame), Thomas Campion (Come, O Come, My Heart’s Delight) and two texts by the composer himself (My Thoughts of You and Adieu, Sweet Amaryllis). Also included are two early, unpublished works for solo piano – Idyll and Arlequin and Columbine. Five songs are heard in new editions created from original manuscripts by British music authority Jeremy Dibble who also provides informative booklet notes.
“Somm has just issued three discs of British song, two featuring the mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge. She is steadily establishing herself in the front rank of British singers, as comfortable in the opera house as in a recital of modern song. One is of songs by Hamilton Harty, better remembered now as a leading conductor of the interwar period. Harty’s Irish roots are apparent in some but by no means all of his songs; a predominant wistfulness runs through them that Rudge’s delightfully vintage voice captures perfectly. For those discovering Harty the composer, the interest in the repertoire comes from what it says about his development: most of the songs are Edwardian in date and in flavour, but some are from immediately after the Great War and others from near the end of Harty’s life in the late 1930s, after he was physically unable to continue conducting.”
“Harty’s piano parts are richly imaginative and on this disc Rudge and Glynn make a fine pairing, the one spinning out a series of shapely lines and the other providing richly texture support and finely emotional partnering. And I must commend Rudge’s diction, you hardly need the printed words. This selection from Kathryn Rudge and Christopher Glynn treats the songs with the care and attention they deserve, and shows the songs to be well worth exploring.”
“Sea Wrack” (track 1) is an impressive opening: based upon a poem by writer Moira O’Neill (1864-1955), who herself resided in Ireland, it describes two men at sea harvesting seaweed who presumably encounter an accident, leaving one of them “beneath the salt sea” and the other alone on the shore. The duo does very well in capturing the poem’s dramatic arc: Rudge’s voice, resonant and declamatory, holds up to the programmatic accompaniment figures….Though the death is only implied in the conclusion of the poem, we can experience its true poignancy in the way Rudge sings the final words… This album is a solid output from Rudge and Glynn and allows listeners to appreciate the vibrancy of Harty’s works.”