Britten: Songs And Proverbs of William Blake




Britten: Songs And Proverbs of William Blake

2010 | Hyperion

Gerald Finley (bass-baritone)


WINNER OF THE 2011 GRAMOPHONE AWARD (Solo Vocal category)

The unbeatable, multi-award-winning partnership of Gerald Finley and Julius Drake turn to the composer Benjamin Britten for their latest Hyperion release.

Although Britten is particularly celebrated for the substantial body of music he composed for the tenor voice, the composer also left an important legacy of music for baritone. Characteristically, Britten’s output for low voice was also inspired by the talents of specific performers with whom he was closely associated, among them Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and John Shirley-Quirk. In addition to song-cycles, individual songs and folksong arrangements, Britten wrote challenging baritone roles in operas as diverse as Billy Budd (1951), Owen Wingrave (1970) and Death in Venice (1972)—the title role of the second of these made very much Gerald Finley’s own in his magnificent interpretation in Margaret Williams’s 2001 television film of the opera.

This disc contains Britten’s two important song cycles for baritone: Tit for Tat, setting the poems of Walter de la Mare, and the more substantial and challenging Songs and Proverbs of William Blake. The latter was written for Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau; designed to showcase his unique blend of intense lyricism and dramatic characterization, qualities which are undoubtedly also exhibited by Gerald Finley.

Also included are some of Britten’s popular folksong settings, and a selection of later songs, which received exposure and publication only after the composer’s death in December 1976.

Track Listing

1. Lemady
2. She’s Like the Swallow
3. I Wonder As I Wander
4. Tom Bowling
5. Proverb I
6. London
7. Proverb II
8. The Chimney Sweeper
9. Proverb III
10. A Poison Tree
11. Proverb IV
12. The Tyger
13. Proverb V
14. The Fly
15. Proverb VI
16. Ah, Sun-flower
17. Proverb VII
18. Every Night and Every Morn
19. A Song of Enchantment
20. Autumn
21. Silver
22. Vigil
23. Tit for Tat
24. Um Mitternacht
25. A Poison Tree
26. Evening
27. Morning
28. Night
29. David of the White Rock
30. Greensleeves
31. The Crocodile
32. The Deaf Woman’s Courtship
33. Bird Scarer’s Song


WINNER OF THE 2011 GRAMOPHONE AWARD (Solo Vocal category)

“Eloquence rooted in sturdy simplicity is what they need, and Finley and Drake hit the right note every time.” 

FIVE STARS: Financial Times
“music that Finley, now at the peak of his very considerable powers, makes his own with the pianist Julius Drake.” 

“Drake is his [Finley’s] admirable partner in this outstanding enterprise.”