Sometime I Sing

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Sometime I Sing

music for voice and guitar by Alec Roth

 Alec Roth
 Mark Padmore
 Morgan Szymanski

A lyrical collection of chamber works for tenor and guitar – Sometime I Sing unites Gramophone award-winning tenor Mark Padmore with Mexican guitarist Morgan Szymanski in settings of texts by Thomas Wyatt, Vikram Seth, John Donne and Edward Thomas by the composer Alec Roth.

Roth is a UK-based composer who works across a wide range of musical genres, including stage works, vocal, choral, orchestral, instrumental, and Javanese gamelan – his former posts include Founder/Director of the Royal Festival Hall Gamelan Programme and Southbank Gamelan Players; Music Director of the Baylis Programme, English National Opera; and Associate Composer, Opera North. This is his third disc with Signum, following a choral album with Ex Cathedra (SIGCD270) and a chamber music disc Songs in Time of War (SIGCD124) also with Mark Padmore and Morgan Szymanski:

 

"Padmore’s clean tenor finds an ideal vehicle ... there’s a transparent, haunting beauty about it, and the accompaniments for violin, harp and guitar are a joy."  The Times



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What people are saying

"A superb disc of music by a prolific and successful composer who has eschewed the passing modernisms of our days.  ... this is a disc which deserves widest distribution and take up on radio programmes." Musical Pointers, May 2013

"With the elegant guitarist Morgan Szymanski, one of Britain's finest tenors explores song settings by Alec Roth. Poems by Vikram Seth are treated mysteriously: slow-moving harmonies, evocative lyrical lines. The 16th·century poet Thomas Wyatt is set more playfully, as befits his wry epigrams on love, lust and mortality. And a bonus: English folksongs, arranged as artfully as Britten did."  The Times, June 2013

Mark Padmore, tenor

Morgan Szymanski, guitar

Release date: 29th Apr 2013
Order code: SIGCD332
Barcode: 635212033227

1.My Lute and I: I. Sigh and MoanAlec Roth2.33
2.My Lute and I: II. Tell MeAlec Roth2.41
3.My Lute and I: III. How?Alec Roth3.48
4.My Lute and I: IV. A KissAlec Roth1.28
5.My Lute and I: V. WonderAlec Roth3.06
6.My Lute and I: VI. Out of My MindAlec Roth3.11
7.My Lute and I: VII. TangledAlec Roth3.11
8.My Lute and I: VIII. Sometime I SingAlec Roth3.30
9.My Lute and I: IX. Now CeaseAlec Roth4.22
10.InvocationAlec Roth4.40
11.Dark NightAlec Roth4.50
12.Three Night Songs: I. The GiftAlec Roth3.04
13.Three Night Songs: II. HeartAlec Roth3.23
14.Three Night Songs: III. All You Who Sleep TonightAlec Roth1.34
15.AutumnalAlec Roth4.01
16.English Folk Songs: I. Scarborough FairAlec Roth2.01
17.English Folk Songs: II. The Brisk Young WidowAlec Roth2.12
18.English Folk Songs: III. The Turtle DoveAlec Roth3.00
19.English Folk Songs: IV. Dance to Your DaddyAlec Roth1.40
20.English Folk Songs: V. Sweet WilliamAlec Roth2.58
21.Lights OutAlec Roth4.14

July 2013

Light-footed, lyrical, Roth's settings range from Thomas Wyatt to Vikram Seth. They suit Szymanski's elegant guitar and Padmore's refined tenor, but devitalise folksongs like Scarborough Fair

BBC Music Magazine, Michael Scott Rohan

 

June 2013

… Whilst I’ve been away there have been a few new CD releases that I am only just catching up on.  There are two new discs on Signum Records. The first, Sometimes I Sing by composer Alec Roth, is a haunting disc of music for tenor (Marc Padmore) and guitar (Morgan Szymanski) to texts by Thomas Wyatt, Vikram Seth, John Donne and Edward Thomas. The music has a jewel-like simplicity that owes much to folk idioms. Padmore’s singing is mesmerizingly beautiful. 

Composition Today, Christian Morris

June 2013

With the elegant guitarist Morgan Szymanski, one of Britain's finest tenors explores song settings by Alec Roth. Poems by Vikram Seth are treated mysteriously: slow-moving harmonies, evocative lyrical lines. The 16th·century poet Thomas Wyatt is set more playfully, as befits his wry epigrams on love, lust and mortality. And a bonus: English folksongs, arranged as artfully as Britten did. 

The Times, Richard Morrison

June 2013

Best known for his Schubert lieder, tenor Mark Padmore here performs Alec Roth's arrangements of songs and poems for voice and guitar, ranging from a sequence of Thomas Wyatt poems of love lost, to the more reflective, crepuscular tone of modem verses on nocturnal themes by Vikram Seth. Padmore's high, clear tone brings due courtly refinement to the former, including "Tell Me", a discussion on female fidelity between the narrator and a robin, accompanied by Morgan Szymanski's delicate, springy guitar. Elsewhere, Padmore adopts a coyly dramatic delivery for a suite of five English folk songs, but is appropriately less animated for "Autumnal", a lovely setting ofJohn Donne's celebration of mature beauty.

The Independent

June 2013

The main work on this disc, My Lute and I, is a song cycle for tenor and guitar which was written for tenor Mark Padmore and guitarist Morgan Szymanski by Alec Roth, setting poems by the Tudor poet Thomas Wyatt (1503 - 1542). For the disc, Padmore and Syzmanski have added further songs by Roth for the same combination, setting words by Vikram Seth (Dark Night, Three Night Songs), John Donne (Autumnal) and Edward Thomas (Lights Out), a short guitar solo (Invocation) and a set of English folksong arrangements. The disc is released on the Signum label, a label which has issued discs of quite a number of Roth's other works including his Songs in the Time of War which was written with Vikram Seth and had Padmore as the soloist.

Roth set nine poems by Thomas Wyatt, a poet and courtier whose poetry seems to have reflected his rather tortured love life (he was married to a woman he did not love, got involved in some way with Anne Boleyn and had a succession of mistresses before dying unexpectedly). The cycle was first performed by Padmore and Szymanski in July 2011 as part of the Summer Music Society of Dorset's 2011 season.

Alec Roth, in the CD booklet notes, talks about how Wyatt's poems 'were clearly intended to be sung', and in the third song How Roth uses a melody based on the English folk-song Searching for Lambs. Roth's settings of all the songs combine a melodious facility with great care to hear the words. Roth places a lot of trust in his tenor soloist, and for much of the time the guitar accompaniment adds rhythmic and harmonic interest rather than covering the voice, and often leaves the voice alone entirely. This trust is repaid and Padmore has rarely sounded so clearly beautiful and expressive on disc. I suspect that he was quite closely recorded, but this only serves to highlight both his voice's beauty and the colours he achieves with it. Szymanski's role is, generally, rather more discreet and the guitar part is hardly showy.

Roth's writing in each of the songs generally takes the form of a fairly free introduction followed by a more structured, more lyrically melodic verse. Many of his tunes and motifs are positive ear-worms and his lyrical melodic gift is clearly very great. All the songs have great charm, with Padmore and Szymanski bringing this out, Padmore also displays his not inconsiderable acting skills in the more narrative poems.

The prevailing mood is of wistful melancholy, an elegant turning of phrase and a lovely, seductively lyrical tone. Many people will be charmed and entranced by the cycle and it obviously would sit well in a programme of lute and guitar accompanied song. But I felt that sometimes Wyatt's verse is more pointed, more pained than Roth allows. I might be rather prejudiced in this, in that I have also set Wyatt's poems for tenor solo. But trying to approach things as a listener, rather than composer, I felt that the cycle could have done with an element of grit, some bitter among the sweet, a moment when the soloist is able to display real pain rather than his elegant company face.

Szymanski follows this with a short, elegant guitar solo Invocation, which is full of lovely melodic material and finely played by the guitarist.

Roth is perhaps most closely associated with the work of Vikram Seth, whose writings he has set in a number of works. Dark Night was his first setting of Seth's work and the text comes from Seth's verse novel, The Golden Gate. The version for voice and guitar was made for the performers on this disc, and first performed by them at Rochdale Music Society in November 2008.

The work opens with a simply rhythmic figure on the guitar and a bleak, plain voice part. The voice tends to circle round the same note,  the vocal line does get more elaborate but the real drama is in the words. Roth brings a slightly exotic feel to the harmony with an interesting bending of odd notes.

The three poems which Roth set in Three Night Songs come from Vikram Seth's collections The Humble Administrator's Garden and All You Who Sleep Tonight. Roth's songs were composed for Padmore and Szymanski and first performed by them in 2011 as part of the Salisbury International Arts Festival.

The Gift opens with a guitar part which is slightly spikier than usual, complemented by a simple quite plain melody. Roth's setting is quite free and declamatory but with notable melodic motifs. Heart is very atmospheric, but quite spare, with a lovely sinuous vocal line. All You Who Sleep Tonight again has a rather memorable tune, but also considerable rhythmic fascination.

The setting of Donne's Autumnal again combines a complex and sinuous melody with rhythmic elements. This insidiously entrancing song was was composed in 2010 as a present for a friend's 70th birthday.

The five English folk-song arrangements were also written for Padmore and Syzmanski, there were premiered in 2008. Roth takes pains to ensure the clarity of the original melodic material and the words, though the guitar accompaniments are highly imaginative at times.

The final item on this disc is a setting of Edward Thomas's Lights Out, it was written for Padmore and Szymanski and first performed by them when recording this disc.

The songs on the disc are all charming and many are entrancing, complemented by performances of great intelligence and beauty from Padmore and Szymanski. I have to come back to the fact that I would have liked a little more grit occasionally, a more raw edge and a less insistent desire to charm and please. But many people will find the disc a complete delight and wonder what I am complaining about.

Planet Hugill - Robert Hugill

The main work on this disc, My Lute and I, is a song cycle for tenor and guitar which was written for tenor Mark Padmore and guitarist Morgan Szymanski by Alec Roth, setting poems by the Tudor poet Thomas Wyatt (1503 - 1542). For the disc, Padmore and Syzmanski have added further songs by Roth for the same combination, setting words by Vikram Seth (Dark Night, Three Night Songs), John Donne (Autumnal) and Edward Thomas (Lights Out), a short guitar solo (Invocation) and a set of English folksong arrangements. The disc is released on the Signum label, a label which has issued discs of quite a number of Roth's other works including his Songs in the Time of War which was written with Vikram Seth and had Padmore as the soloist.

Roth set nine poems by Thomas Wyatt, a poet and courtier whose poetry seems to have reflected his rather tortured love life (he was married to a woman he did not love, got involved in some way with Anne Boleyn and had a succession of mistresses before dying unexpectedly). The cycle was first performed by Padmore and Szymanski in July 2011 as part of the Summer Music Society of Dorset's 2011 season.

Alec Roth, in the CD booklet notes, talks about how Wyatt's poems 'were clearly intended to be sung', and in the third song How Roth uses a melody based on the English folk-song Searching for Lambs. Roth's settings of all the songs combine a melodious facility with great care to hear the words. Roth places a lot of trust in his tenor soloist, and for much of the time the guitar accompaniment adds rhythmic and harmonic interest rather than covering the voice, and often leaves the voice alone entirely. This trust is repaid and Padmore has rarely sounded so clearly beautiful and expressive on disc. I suspect that he was quite closely recorded, but this only serves to highlight both his voice's beauty and the colours he achieves with it. Szymanski's role is, generally, rather more discreet and the guitar part is hardly showy.

Roth's writing in each of the songs generally takes the form of a fairly free introduction followed by a more structured, more lyrically melodic verse. Many of his tunes and motifs are positive ear-worms and his lyrical melodic gift is clearly very great. All the songs have great charm, with Padmore and Szymanski bringing this out, Padmore also displays his not inconsiderable acting skills in the more narrative poems.

The prevailing mood is of wistful melancholy, an elegant turning of phrase and a lovely, seductively lyrical tone. Many people will be charmed and entranced by the cycle and it obviously would sit well in a programme of lute and guitar accompanied song. But I felt that sometimes Wyatt's verse is more pointed, more pained than Roth allows. I might be rather prejudiced in this, in that I have also set Wyatt's poems for tenor solo. But trying to approach things as a listener, rather than composer, I felt that the cycle could have done with an element of grit, some bitter among the sweet, a moment when the soloist is able to display real pain rather than his elegant company face.

Szymanski follows this with a short, elegant guitar solo Invocation, which is full of lovely melodic material and finely played by the guitarist.

Roth is perhaps most closely associated with the work of Vikram Seth, whose writings he has set in a number of works. Dark Night was his first setting of Seth's work and the text comes from Seth's verse novel, The Golden Gate. The version for voice and guitar was made for the performers on this disc, and first performed by them at Rochdale Music Society in November 2008.

The work opens with a simply rhythmic figure on the guitar and a bleak, plain voice part. The voice tends to circle round the same note,  the vocal line does get more elaborate but the real drama is in the words. Roth brings a slightly exotic feel to the harmony with an interesting bending of odd notes.

The three poems which Roth set in Three Night Songs come from Vikram Seth's collections The Humble Administrator's Garden and All You Who Sleep Tonight. Roth's songs were composed for Padmore and Szymanski and first performed by them in 2011 as part of the Salisbury International Arts Festival.

The Gift opens with a guitar part which is slightly spikier than usual, complemented by a simple quite plain melody. Roth's setting is quite free and declamatory but with notable melodic motifs. Heart is very atmospheric, but quite spare, with a lovely sinuous vocal line. All You Who Sleep Tonight again has a rather memorable tune, but also considerable rhythmic fascination.

The setting of Donne's Autumnal again combines a complex and sinuous melody with rhythmic elements. This insidiously entrancing song was was composed in 2010 as a present for a friend's 70th birthday.

The five English folk-song arrangements were also written for Padmore and Syzmanski, there were premiered in 2008. Roth takes pains to ensure the clarity of the original melodic material and the words, though the guitar accompaniments are highly imaginative at times.

The final item on this disc is a setting of Edward Thomas's Lights Out, it was written for Padmore and Szymanski and first performed by them when recording this disc.

The songs on the disc are all charming and many are entrancing, complemented by performances of great intelligence and beauty from Padmore and Szymanski. I have to come back to the fact that I would have liked a little more grit occasionally, a more raw edge and a less insistent desire to charm and please. But many people will find the disc a complete delight and wonder what I am complaining about.

Planet Hugill, Robert Hugill

May 2013

A superb disc of music by a prolific and successful composer who has eschewed the passing modernisms of our days.

My lute & I are nine settings of Thomas Wyatt, in the vein of the ever popular Elizabethan lute songs (there is also one to John Donne's Autumnal.) I wonder whether Alec Roth's lute songs could be played with lute too?

Also there are some English folk song settings, and a slightly more innovative group of Night Songs to words by his collaborator Vikram Seth, those with suggestions of classical Indian music.

But the disc is highly desirable for the singing of Mark Padmore, superb in expressivity and perfect diction, in the supportive acoustic of St Alban the Martyr, Holborn; recorded partly at night, the session photos by by engineer Andrew Mellor suggest.

The notes and words are in good black-on-white print (increasingly rare !) and this is a disc which deserves widest distribution and take up on radio programmes. 

I deplore however the cover, which relegates Alec Roth to the smallest print!

Musical Pointers, Peter Grahame Woolf