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Ossian Huskinson & Matthew Fletcher in Vaughan Williams and extra on Linn Information

The Roadside Fire: Vaughan Williams Songs of Travel, Farrar, Warlock, Head; Ossian Huskinson, Matthew Fletcher; Royal Academy of Music Bicentenary Series on LINN RECORDS

The Roadside Fireplace: Vaughan Williams Songs of Journey, Farrar, Warlock, Head; Ossian Huskinson, Matthew Fletcher; Royal Academy of Music Bicentenary Sequence on LINN RECORDS    

Youthful power and poetry from bass Ossian Huskinson on this wonderful debut recital as a part of the Royal Academy of Music’s Bicentenary celebrations

As a part of the Royal Academy of Music‘s bicentenary celebrations, 4 recipients of the Academy’s 2020/21 Bicentenary Scholarships scheme – Julie Park, Camilla Harris, Ossian Huskinson and Charlie Lovell-Jones – will every launch a brand new album. The primary of those, on Linn Information, options bass Ossian Huskinson and pianist Matthew Fletcher in The Roadside Fireplace that includes RVW’s Songs of Journey alongside different journey songs by Ernest Farrar, Peter Warlock and Michael Head.

Huskinson feedback in his booklet be aware that the “recording is devoted to Sally Bauer, my first singing trainer, who handed me Vaughan Williams’ ‘The Vagabond’ over eleven years in the past, and began my very personal journey“. What’s fascinating is that Huskinson has paired RVW’s cycle with songs by youthful English contemporaries exploring the identical theme, together with a few of Ernest Farrar’s Vagabond Songs together with a setting of the identical R.L. Stevenson poem as RVW.

We first got here throughout Ossian Huskinson in 2019, in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta with Royal Academy Opera [see my review], since then he has been an Alvarez Younger Artist at Garsington, profitable the Simon Sandbach award in 2021 [see my article], and now as a Harewood Artist at English Nationwide Opera has appeared memorably in HMS Pinafore, The Crafty Little Vixen and Tosca.

This new disc reveals him to have a finely burnished and superbly versatile bass voice, his fluidity and sense of line maybe shocking given the deep darkish tone, however he also can lighten issues. His efficiency of RVW’s Songs of Journey is notable for the big variety of timbre that he brings to the piece, allied to outstanding dynamic vary. Sure, the voice thrills within the climaxes however within the critical centre of the cycle in numbers six and 7, he could be finely intimate and delicate, even within the greater reaches. And his diction may be very wonderful certainly; granted, I do know the songs nicely, however the phrases come over on a regular basis, allied to a way of line that’s admirable.

That is younger man’s music, for all of the mature sound of Huskinson’s bass voice, and he brings a liveliness to one of the best passages and all through there’s a pretty sense of poetry. The poetic is rarely very distant, and even the liveliest track has its contemplative moments as Huskinson and Fletcher enable their vagabond to pause and mirror. From the opening track, with its steadiness of tempo allied to a maturity of sound and darkly focussed tone, there’s a sense that for all his youth, this vagabond is a sober and considerate younger man. There may be swagger too, in songs like quantity eight, however even right here poetry wins out.

Ernest Farrar studied on the Royal Faculty of Music with Stanford. He enlisted in 1915 and was killed in 1918. He started his Vagabond Songs in 1908 (some 4 years after RVW’s cycle was premiered) and Farrar’s cycle was meant for baritone and orchestra with the model for baritone and piano being created in 1911. ‘The Wanderers Music’ has a stunning outdoorsy swagger to it, with a wonderful feeling of vigour from each performers. The type while recognisably English, is in placing distinction to the RVW. ‘Silent Midday’ makes use of a poem acquainted from RVW, however right here in a unique, but equally poetic method. ‘The Roadside Fireplace’, setting an RLS poem acquainted from Songs of Journey, is perkily vigorous and receives a splendidly partaking efficiency.

Huskinson follows these with the third of Peter Warlock’s Three Belloc Songs, ‘My very own nation’ which dates from 1927. Huskinson and Fletcher give a finely rapturous but considerate efficiency, notable for its lack of tub-thumping swagger.

Then comes two songs by Michael Head together with the fifth of his Songs of the Countryside, written when he was nonetheless in his early 20s, and ‘Vagabond Music’ from Three Cotswold Songs. ‘Vagabond Music’ has an underlying swagger to it, with a beautiful zest to the piano, but there’s subtlety right here to, and the entire track has a Warlock-esque really feel to it. In contrast ‘Candy Probability’ is superbly lyrical and melodic.

We finish with RVW in somewhat completely different temper, the poetic rhapsody of Linden Lea. Acquainted territory, however finely realised by the 2 performers and Huskinson’s method actually does make us hearken to the textual content, the poetry of William Barnes.

Ossian Huskinson (Photo Besim Mazhiqi)
Ossian Huskinson (Picture Besim Mazhiqi)

The Roadside Fireplace
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) – Songs of Journey
Ernest Farrar (1885-1918) – Vagabond Songs, Op.10
Peter Warlock (1894-1930) – My Personal Nation (Three Belloc Songs)
Michael Head (1900-1976) – A Vagabond Music (Three Cotswold Songs)
Michael Head – Candy Probability, That Led My Steps Overseas (Songs of the Countryside)
Ralph Vaughan Williams – Linden Lea
Ossian Huskinson (bass)
Matthew Fletcher (piano)
Recorded within the Angela Burgess Recital Corridor, Royal Academy of Music, 21 September 2021

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