BRYN TERFEL Simple Gifts

Simple Gifts

Aled Jones · Simon Keenlyside
John Williams, Guitar
London Symphony Orchestra
Barry Wordsworth
Int. Release 04 Oct. 2005
1 CD / Download
0289 477 5563 0
CD DDD 0289 477 5563 0 GH
Finally here comes the long anticipated follow-up project to Bryn Terfel's platinum album “Favourites”

Track List

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Ave verum corpus, K. 618

John Rutter (1945 - )
Bryn Terfel, London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth, London Voices, Terry Edwards

Alan Murray (1890 - 1952)
Bryn Terfel, London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710 - 1736)
Stabat Mater


Bryn Terfel, Simon Keenlyside, London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth

Bryn Terfel, London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth, London Voices, Terry Edwards

Joseph Brackett, Jr. (1797 - 1882)
Bryn Terfel, London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth

Bryn Terfel, London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth, London Voices, Terry Edwards

César Franck (1822 - 1890)
Messe solennelle en la majeur, Op. 12 FWV 61

Aled Jones, Bryn Terfel, London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth

May H. Brahe (1885 - 1956)
Bryn Terfel, London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth

Karl Jenkins (1944 - )

Bryn Terfel, Simon Keenlyside, London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth

Stanley Myers (1930 - 1993)
Bryn Terfel, London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth, John Williams

Amanda McBroom

Bryn Terfel, London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth, London Voices, Terry Edwards

James P. Carrell, David S. Clayton
Gwynn Williams

Lowell Mason (1792 - 1872)
Charles Gounod (1818 - 1893), Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)
Stephen Sondheim (1930 - )
Bryn Terfel, London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth

William G. Tomer
Bryn Terfel, London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth, London Voices, Terry Edwards

Total Playing Time 1:10:23

The follow-up disc more than matches the high-quality threshold set by its predecessor . . .

His voice is once again very easy to listen to, and admirably rich in sonority. To his credit he also shows commendable restraint when faced with the no doubt frequent temptation to indulge in expressive devices such as rubato or portamento . . . Hazell has crafted some often attractive instrumentation . . . [Bryn] is on good form here, full of voice but tempered where necessary . . . effective are the two collaborations with fellow baritone Simon Keenlyside, and in particular the opening of Pergolesi's Stabat mater, a breath of fresh air with its taut LSO string sound and wonderful vocal interaction . . . if you've gone for Terfel's appeal in the past you won't be disappointed by the quantity and much of the quality on offer . . . [He deserves credit for an immensely varied programme, one that] will certainly introduce something new to those who listen.

. . . good taste has known where to draw the line, and there is much that gives pleasure. Terfel himself has the gift to be simple and, in something almost amounting to genius, the gift of communication. With him, the words live and become vivid: in the very song "Simple Gifts" there's a touch of defiance in 'We shan't be ashamed' and 'the valley of love and delight' does indeed light up. He sings 'I'll walk beside you' as a song of promise, looking to the future. He frequently uses a soft, intimate voice, in a modern manner but not as a crooner . . . how delightful to find that 'Morning has Broken' goes not to a laid-back 'stay-in-bed, sleepy head' motion but to a wide-awake springday "allegro".

. . . Terfel is a performer who brings total commitment to everything he sings . . . "Simple Gifts" . . . the simplicity in question is not easily achieved.

This is the lighter side of Terfel, displayed in arrangements of a wide variety of (mainly) religious items ranging from Bach/Gounod and Pergolesi to Sondheim and John Rutter. He sings everything with immediacy and distinctive artistry.

. . . fine choice for this Christmas season.

Stated simply, an utterly delightful recital.

Bryns vorweihnachtliches Geschenk ist eine Wundertüte wie man sie vom Schulanfang kennt, eine Scheibe, die überrascht . . . weil der sympathische Waliser mit dem Titel seines Albums hält, was er verspricht . . . Beeindrucken kann Terfel aber auch mit populären Stücken, die man so schön und andächtig noch nie gehört hat: das Grablied "Nearer My God to Thee" etwa, das er mit seinem samtigen Bassbariton und einer vorbildlichen Artikulation diskret und kultiviert zum Ausdruck bringt, oder Stephen Sondheims fesselnd interpretierte Musical-Nummer "Send in the Clowns", mit dem der Sänger an sein wundervolles Rodgers&Hammerstein-Album von vor fast zehn Jahren anknüpft.

Alle Jahre wieder bringt das baßbaritonale Genie aus Wales mit der volltönenden, farbenreichen Stimme und dem unwiderstehlichen Pianissimo bei der DG eine Solo-CD heraus, die garantiert ein Megaseller wird. Nach den letzten Alben, den poppigen "Favourites" und den wunderbar zarten englischen Liedern "Silent Noon", versammelt nun "Simple Gifts" Barockes und Zeitgenössisches, Klassisches und Populäres, Kirchenlieder und Volksmusik . . . Egal, ob hohe Kunst oder Mainstream - Bryns Stimme ist stets phänomenal in Phrasierung und dynamischer Differenzierung; sein samtenes Timbre und seine gefühlvolle Interpretation sind einfach zum Weinen schön.

Terfel luce la hondura de su instrumento con una sencillez fascinante y hace que el oyente le sienta muy cercano.

El protagonista Terfel luce su magnífica voz de bajo barítono, cómoda en casi cualquier tesitura, poderosa pero capaz de matizar cuando se le requiere.

Terfel muestra una vez más con esta selección heterogénea, un gusto musical muy diversificado, que demuestra la versatilidad de este intérprete galés, uno de los grandes barítonos de nuestro tiempo . . . Esta recopilación tiene el valor de la elección personal de un sensible intérprete que nos demuestra una vez más su capacidad innegable de transmitir emociones, en este caso en tono menor, creando un mundo de relajación y espiritualidad.

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 Favourites included 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 he has 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