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The Song of Love – songs and duets by Ralph Vaughan Williams performed by mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately, baritone Roderick Williams and pianist William Vann, includes fifteen world-première recordings and one first modern recording, including six unpublished works. Songs include arrangements of older or traditional songs in both French and German, including the Huguenot Battle Psalm and a troubadour song from the end of the 12th century. There are Three Songs from Shakespeare (not to be confused with the part-songs entitled Three Shakespeare Songs), settings of two poems by the Irish poet Seumas O’Sullivan, and two duets from 1903.
On 2 December 1904 Vaughan Williams promoted his own works at an amazing concert in what is now the Wigmore Hall. Amongst other first performances, The House of Life (a setting of six sonnets by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, including the ever-popular Silent Noon) was premièred by a contralto, Edith Clegg, with Hamilton Harty at the piano. There are many recordings: but all are by tenors and baritones. On this album Kitty Whately has made the first ‘female’ recording of the complete cycle – beginning to redress the balance.
The German and French songs are idiomatically sung by Williams (who enjoys the rollicking Buonaparty), while Whately’s limpid mezzo delights in The Willow Song and the settings from Measure for Measure, Love’s Labour’s Lost and Henry VIII. – Sunday Times “disc of the week”