Bryn Terfel, London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth, London Voices, Terry Edwards
Tiempo total de reproducción 1:10:23
The music just flows
“Simple Gifts" - Bryn Terfel sings Songs of Inspiration
When Bryn Terfel took the role of Wotan in Wagner's Die Walküre at the 2005 BBC Proms, one reviewer wrote that his was “quite simply one of the great portrayals of our time". Yet Terfel's audiences know that even Wagner is not capacious enough to contain his talent. This, remember, is a singer who is liable to end his recitals with Michael Flanders and Donald Swann's deliciously nonsensical Mud, mud, glorious mud.
It is a long way from Wagner to Flanders and Swann, but Terfel is a performer who brings total commitment to everything he sings. His 2003 collection Favouritesincluded not only Brahms and Bizet, Schubert and Tchaikovsky, but such big-hearted standards as Shenandoah and Danny Boy,as well as James Horner's Il mio cuore va (“My Heart Will Go On", the love theme from the movie Titanic).
Favourites was an international bestseller, achieving platinum status in Britain, so it is hardly surprising that Terfel should record a follow-up, an even more eclectic mix of classical and popular, secular and religious, folksongs and show tunes. As on Favourites, Terfel has invited friends and colleagues to join him. Such collaborations mean a lot to him; and if the collaborator happens to be, like Terfel himself, an icon of Welsh singing, that only adds to the pleasure. Aled Jones came to fame as a teenager in the 1970s, when his pure, still unbroken treble voice won the hearts of a nation with such hits as Walking in the Air. On Simple Gifts he joins Terfel in César Franck's Panis Angelicus.
Another of Terfel's collaborators is guitarist John Williams. He provides the understated accompaniment to the singer's rendition of She Was Beautiful (Cavatina), a piece with which he has a long relationship. Stanley Myers originally wrote it as a brief piano theme for the 1970 film The Walking Stick. Williams, who worked on the film, asked Myers to arrange the melody for guitar; this version later became the theme for Michael Cimino's Oscar-winning 1978 Vietnam movie The Deer Hunter, by which time the singer Cleo Laine, struck by Myers's beautiful melody, had provided a lyric and recorded it with Williams as He Was Beautiful.
For Terfel and Williams, the chance to work together is the realization of a long-held dream. “I've always been a huge admirer of guitar music," says Terfel, “and I was very excited about the chance to work with John. I had seen his name everywhere as we both travelled the world, yet our paths never seemed to cross, until now." Williams himself recalls, “Once when I was performing in Australia, my wife noticed that Bryn was singing at the Sydney Opera House on the same night, and she really wanted to go. It's great that we have finally met. Accompanying him was so easy: when he sings the piece, the music just flows."
The third of Terfel's guests is fellow baritone Simon Keenlyside. The two men have a long-standing working relationship, notably in performances of Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, in which Terfel has played Leporello to Keenlyside's Don (they can be heard on Claudio Abbado's DG recording of the opera). It is a mark of the two men's friendship and mutual respect that in 2004 Keenlyside sang at Terfel's Faenol Festival, which takes place in North Wales each year.
On Simple Gifts they can be heard on Karl Jenkins's Ave verum corpus (specially written for Terfel), and in the first movement of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater. The latter piece was originally written for soprano and alto soloists; the use of two baritones lends it a darker, more melancholy timbre, ideally suited to Terfel and Keenlyside.
Simple Gifts, then, but the simplicity in question is not so easily achieved. Some of this material may invite exaggeration, but restraint is Terfel's byword, as reflected in the words of the old Shaker hymn Simple Gifts, which hehas chosen as the collection's title track: “'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free, 'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be". Nick Kimberley 8/2005