Review By Jordi Abelló,Ritmo,May 2011
El absoluto desconocimiento por la obra de Venables suscitó mi curiosidad y he descubierto un compositor realmente interesante y de gran valía. Sus melodías, a menudo sencillas, nos descubren también un complejo mundo armónico. Su obra vocal es considerable y aunque su producción abarca otros ámbitos, parece ser más conocido por sus canciones. more....
Review By Philip Lancaster,The British Music Society,March 2011
The last year has been one of great significance for Ian Venables; a year that has by chance coincided with his first as a full time composer. As well as seeing premiere performances at such as Wigmore Hall, it has seen three commercial recordings: a disc of songs and chamber music on Signum Records, including his String Quartet—perhaps one of Venables’s most original works; a disc of chamber music issued by Somm Records, notably including the Piano Quintet; and a disc of song on the ubiquitous Naxos label. This latter disc is the first in Naxos’s English Song Series—a series taken over from Collins Classics upon their demise—to be devoted to the work of a living composer, and it is disc with which I am concerned here.
Review By Jeremy Marchant ,Fanfare,March 2011
Andrew Kennedy is in fine voice, unfailingly responsive to the text and the settings, his tone constantly engaging. Iain Burnside makes the most of the accompaniment, which is never showy and always written to support the text and the vocal line. The performances from all three are clearly committed. The recording, made in Wyaston Concert Hall, is fine and texts are provided where out of copyright.
Review By Robert A Moore,American Record Guide,March 2011
No English tenor today is more splendidly at home in this fine music than Andrew Kennedy…His voice is more robust and red-blooded…With great liveliness and energy in his singing and a broad palette of vocal color, Kennedy’s performance is both invigorating and tender. English song singing doesn’t get better than this. Iain Burnside has been the anchor for this project, and his collaboration again is exemplary. Richard Hosford, principal clarinet of the BBC Symphony, plays superbly.
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Review By Record Geijutsu,March 2011
Review By Brian Wilson,MusicWeb International,January 2011
Though some of Ian Venables’ music has already been recorded, I had not encountered his songs before. Love’s Voice was recorded by Kevin Maclean-Mair and Graham Lloyd on the Enigma label, a performance which Rob Barnett clearly enjoyed on a disc which he recommended to lovers of Moeran, Vaughan Williams, Orr or Butterworth—see review. I’m not sure if that CD is still available—it never was on general release—but the Naxos makes a fine replacement.
Review By John France,MusicWeb International,November 2010
Two things need to be understood when approaching the songs of Ian Venables. Firstly, his music sits fairly and squarely in the tradition of English vocal music. From the Elizabethan lutenists to Tippett by way of Finzi and Warlock, it is easy to detect influences and allusions. Venables typically writes in a largely tonal - sometimes stretched a bit - idiom that is usually both approachable and memorable. Furthermore even the briefest of glances at the list of poets that he has chosen to set, reveals many names that are a part of the English literary tradition. These include Tennyson, Hardy and Harold Monro (1879-1932). The second point is an outworking of the first. There is absolutely no way that Venables’ music is derivative or pastiche of any other composer, living or
Finally, one or two characteristics that are nearly always present in Venables’ songs are a deep response to the text - frequently the poets too - and the ability to move the listener, often beyond the call of duty. Much of his music is melancholy: it is often beautiful and is always well-crafted. The present CD introduces the listener to a number of songs and cycles: some of these are well known to British music enthusiasts, but others are first recordings and are therefore valuable additions to his catalogue. I was seriously impressed by the song-cycle On the Wings of Love which is a setting for tenor, clarinet and piano of poems by a variety of non-English writers. It was composed in 2005-2006. I rely heavily on the composer’s web pages and the sleeve-notes for my comments on this work. The title of the song-cycle was taken from Plato’s Symposium which is that philosopher’s great discourse on the nature of love. Venables has attempted to explore the ‘universal theme of love in its widest possible sense and not just in the realm of human affections’. The composer chooses a number of texts from poets old and modern, and from a variety of backgrounds and countries. The first song is a setting of Constantine P. Cavafy’s ‘slippery time’ poem, ‘Ionian Song’, where he suggests that in spite of the old gods having been thrown down and their temples destroyed, they are still watching over their land. Venables has interpreted this poem in a subtly timeless manner: he has created a fine balance between a relatively ‘modernistic’ declamatory style and a heart-achingly beautiful lyricism. This song is a mmore....