Whither must I wander

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Whither must I wander

English Songs by Vaughan Williams, Finzi & Quilter

 David John Pike

Centred around Vaughan Williams' Songs of Travel, this collection of English song brings together three now influential figures in the world of British music – Vaughan Williams, his contemporary (in age rather than compositional approach) Roger Quilter, and the younger Gerald Finzi (whose work Let us Garlands Bring was composed to mark Vaughan Williams' 70th birthday). The texts used are drawn from a variety of source: from traditional 'Dorset' songs, through settings of Shakespere, to the central song-cycle of poetry by Robert Louis Stevenson.
 
Baritone David John Pike has a widely varied repertoire covering early music, oratorio, symphonic, opera and commissioned works. In his native Canada, in the UK and across Europe, he has worked with leading ensembles including Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London Philharmonic and the Schweizerkammerchor under the direction of Christophers, Dutoit, Jurowski, Marriner, Mehta, Rattle and Zinman. He now has a growing reputation as an operatic and concert soloist.
 



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What people are saying

" It is a real pleasure to make the acquaintance of David John Pike on this quite superb recording. The singer has all the qualities that one looks for in this repertoire: a well-focused and steady delivery, imaginative response to the text, and a real sense of legato ... This recital should draw in anyone who cares about British song and the future of British singing. They will thoroughly enjoy themselves, as I did – comparisons with Shirley-Quirk and Terfel are not at all inappropriate when listening to artistry such as this." Recording of the Month, Musicweb International, May 2013

"It is assuredly – and this judgement has nothing to do with sycophancy – the exemplary interpretation of repertoire that is often neglected outside Britain – and a recording to which one will listen with pleasure, again and again." Luxemburger Wort, December 2012

"With his sonorous and flexible baritone voice, David John Pike sings a programme of English songs with highly impressive style." Pizzicato, January 2013

"Pike’s dark roast baritone voice is wonderfully robust yet clear and his articulate pleasure at singing art song in English is a joy to hear ... accompanist Isabelle Trüb is stunningly virtuosic without stealing the limelight?...?incredible." The Whole Note

David John Pike baritone

Isabelle Trüb piano

 

Release date: 3rd Dec 2012
Order code: SIGCD314
Barcode: 635212031421

1.Songs of Travel: The VagabondRalph Vaughan Williams3.04
2.Songs of Travel: Let Beauty AwakeRalph Vaughan Williams1.38
3.Songs of Travel: The Roadside FireRalph Vaughan Williams2.19
4.Songs of Travel: Youth and LoveRalph Vaughan Williams3.27
5.Songs of Travel: In DreamsRalph Vaughan Williams2.51
6.Songs of Travel: The Infinite Shining HeavensRalph Vaughan Williams2.15
7.Songs of Travel: Whither must I wander?Ralph Vaughan Williams3.34
8.Songs of Travel: Bright is the ring of wordsRalph Vaughan Williams1.40
9.Songs of Travel: I have trod the upward and the downward slopeRalph Vaughan Williams1.41
10.Five Mystical Songs: I got me flowersRalph Vaughan Williams2.36
11.Five Mystical Songs: Love bade me welcomeRalph Vaughan Williams5.36
12.Five Mystical Songs: The CallRalph Vaughan Williams2.13
13.Let us garlands bring, Op.18: Come away, come away, deathGerald Finzi4.08
14.Let us garlands bring, Op.18: Who is Silvia?Gerald Finzi1.28
15.Let us garlands bring, Op.18: Fear no more the heat o? the sunGerald Finzi6.24
16.Let us garlands bring, Op.18: O Mistress MineGerald Finzi2.09
17.Let us garlands bring, Op.18: It was a lover and his lassGerald Finzi2.47
18.Three Shakespeare Songs, Op.6: Come away, DeathRoger Quilter2.36
19.Three Shakespeare Songs, Op.6: O Mistress mineRoger Quilter1.29
20.Three Shakespeare Songs, Op.6: Blow, blow, thou Winter WindRoger Quilter2.33
21.Silent Noon (From The House of Life)Ralph Vaughan Williams4.06
22.Linden LeaRalph Vaughan Williams2.32
23.Blackmwore by the StourRalph Vaughan Williams2.03

April 2013

Recording of the Month

It is a real pleasure to make the acquaintance of David John Pike on this quite superb recording. The singer has all the qualities that one looks for in this repertoire: a well-focused and steady delivery, imaginative response to the text, and a real sense of legato. He can sustain a nicely shaded crescendo, as in the line “And this shall be for music when no one else is near” from The roadside fire, and the accompaniment by Isabelle Trüb is not only excellently played but well balanced with the voice. She makes much of the forlorn little epilogue I have trod the upward and the downward slope, only found among Vaughan Williams’s papers after his death.

Bryn Terfel has given us superlative recordings of both the principal cycles on this recording. His Songs of Travel has long been the most recommendable version of the set, and his Finzi Let us garlands bring with its incredibly slow version of Fear no more the heat of the sun packs an incredible emotional punch. That said, there are many who find Terfel’s shading and constant interpretation of the text is achieved at the sense of the lyrical line, and they will find Pike to be less controversial in this respect. However it should be added that both these cycles also exist in orchestral versions although the orchestration in Songs of Travel is not entirely by the composer. Those are also highly treasurable, and listeners who love these songs should have both. In fact, recordings of the Finzi in the orchestral form are hardly thick on the ground, and only Allen and Rattle have given us the Vaughan Williams.

Similarly the Vaughan Williams Five Mystical Songs are probably better known in their version for baritone, choir and orchestra; but the composer allowed for performances with just voice and piano, and Pike here gives us three of the songs, those which he contends in his booklet notes most suit that combination. He appears however to have overlooked the fact that Vaughan Williams specifically re-composed the final song for voice and piano in a substantially different version from that for chorus, and it would have been good to have the whole work in that form. I understand there were concerns regarding the amount of music that could have been squeezed onto the CD, but in the event there would have been room for the whole. Nevertheless the rendition of Love bade me welcome is very moving here, and amidst the heavenly beauty one hardly misses the chorus at all.

Pike also does well by the Quilter songs, although unfortunately the settings of O mistress mine andCome away, Death cannot match those by Finzi also included on this disc. The latter Finzi setting must be one of the greatest ever songs to this much-used Shakespeare text; the only other composer who has come close to rivalling it is Sibelius, using a Finnish translation.

The only ‘miss’ in this otherwise unmissable recital is the performance of Silent noon, which sounds very sunlit here and not in the least mysterious. The line “Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragonfly hangs like a blue thread” completely misses the sense of rapt wonder that is found by Terfel or by John Shirley-Quirk in his old Saga recording. Pike redeems himself in the final two tracks, with a nicely straight delivery of Linden Lea and an uproarious Dorset accent in Blackmwore by the Stour.

This recital should draw in anyone who cares about British song and the future of British singing. They will thoroughly enjoy themselves, as I did – comparisons with Shirley-Quirk and Terfel are not at all inappropriate when listening to artistry such as this.

Musicweb International, Paul Corfield Godfrey

April 2013

David John Pike - British-Canadian, based in Luxembourg - is a rising young baritone with a powerfully operatic voice. Supported by Isabelle Trub's accompaniments, often rather more assertive and colourful than reticent Brits expect, he gives the Songs of Travel a distinctively dramatic edge that really brings out this great cycle's stature, and that of Stevenson's verse - especially as his diction is exceptional. Only a slight accelerando in The Vagabond seems ill-judged. 

He delivers the rest of his Vaughan Williams programme equally well, the three Mystical Songs especially, and likewise the fine Finzi cycle, an ardent Who is Sylvia? contrasted with the richly elegiac Fear no more the heat o'the Sun. The Quilter songs are more conventional, but that's their nature. Pike does miss the breathless stillness of Silent Noon - female interpreters like Felicity Lott seem to manage it better - but makes up for it with a lyrical Linden Lea

Finally he bravely essays Blackmore by the Stour in William Barnes's original Dorset dialect version. Perhaps he shouldn't have, his dialect straying from Mummerset to Bow Bells with just a dash of Generic Pirate; but it's hard not to like, and doesn't detract from the rest of a very fine disc. It's already had the good word from Sir Thomas Allen, and no wonder. 

Performance 

BBC Music Magazine, Michael Scott Rohan

March 2013

With a daunting range of emotional expression and poetic moods, Vaughan Williams’ Songs of Travel challenge every singer who performs them. Singers performing these songs must have a convincingly profound understanding of the composer’s affinity for the poet’s (Robert Louis Stevenson) own spiritual wanderlust. Canadian-British baritone David John Pike travels well in Vaughan Williams’ universe. He understands the evolutionary push these works gave to English parlour song, moving the art form into the 20th century and unimagined new realms of form and tonality. Vaughan Williams writes with the feel of open-ended free form that nevertheless rests on solid compositional craft. Pike seems naturally at home with this, flowing easily from the lighter-hearted “Blackmore by the Stour” to the mystical and sacred “The Call.”

Pike’s dark roast baritone voice is wonderfully robust yet clear and his articulate pleasure at singing art song in English is a joy to hear. His repertoire choice makes for a superb program on a disc that includes works by two of Vaughan Williams’ friends and colleagues: Gerald Finzi and Roger Quilter. Finzi’s language is more restrained and introspective, qualities that Pike senses and portrays beautifully. But the real surprise on the disc is Quilter’s Three Shakespeare Songs that Pike delivers with imagination and elegance. Here is an unassailable argument for hearing more of Quilter’s work performed and recorded.

Finally, accompanist Isabelle Trüb is stunningly virtuosic without stealing the limelight"…..."…incredible.

The Whole Note, Alex Baran

December 2012

Baritone David John Pike, accompanied by pianist Isabelle Trüb performs a collection of English songs by Vaughan Williams, Roger Quilter and Gerald Finzi. The texts are drawn from a variety of sources, from traditional Dorset songs and settings of Shakespeare. Compelling listening.

Northern Echo, Gavin Enelbrecht

January 2013

Musically Outstanding

The Luxembourg resident baritone, David John Pike, with whom many friends of music, also in Trier, are familiar – last from the Messiah performance at the beginning of December in the Basilica – has released his first CD.

The British-Canadian singer presents art songs by twentieth century English composers. He is accompanied by Luxembourg piano professor, Isabelle Trüb.

A repertoire nearly unknown here in this country, a baritone with pithy, but warm, rounded, never hard intonation, a piano accompanist who follows suit perfectly, music full of temperament, plus a accompanying personal note from the singer, who dared to enter the singing life as a second profession, and an equally informative overview of the recorded composers: the great master Ralph Vaughan Williams, his contemporary who followed more the German tradition, Roger Quilter, and then the versatile representative of the student generation, Gerald Finzi – it is a musically outstanding plea and for David John Pike, an exquisite CD debut.

Most impressive perhaps are the fresh and lively interpretations that make one forget that this is a studio production. Even with exact knowledge and with the perfection of the studio, this music nonetheless seems to be born of the moment, with an unexpected pinch of allowable exaggeration (a couple of perhaps too abrupt dynamic drops, one or two too distinctively darkened piani).

Naturalness, an engaging programme and intelligently integrated knowledge of the style (besides a masterful presentation of British English with a bid for the rolled “R”) are the characteristics of this still young baritone, from whom we in Trier, too, will certainly hear more.

"£16vor.de"¯ - Germany, Klauspeter Bungert

January 2013

First Class Song Recital

With his sonorous and flexible baritone voice, David John Pike sings a programme of English songs with highly impressive style.  With the congenial accompaniment of pianist Isabelle Trüb, he achieves a degree of emotional penetration not necessarily obvious with this repertoire.  Pike finds the right voice, the right tone, for every song.  This is even more effective through his solid technique, which allows him to concentrate fully on the interpretation.

A further strength is the warmth of his pleasantly nutty, powerful voice, calm breath control, a beautiful legato and good mastery of the mezzovoce.  The voice sounds slightly strained only very occasionally and is free of any nasal sounds.

The sound quality of the recording is astoundingly natural: the perfect sense of space and optimal balance between voice and piano make the most of the interpretation of Pike and Trüb.

Pizzicato (Translation)

December 2012

Musical Jewels from the Other Side of the Channel

The songs of Ralph Vaughan Williams appear to be from folklore, or that is what they evoke in our ears at first, but then English nature appears in our eyes – but are they exterior or interior landscapes?  On the CD that they have just produced, David John Pike and Isabelle Trüb take the latter option, in any case.  The road taken is a voyage to the heart of vocal and pianistic beauty, awakening in us an emotion that is difficult to describe - perhaps nostalgia for bygone or lost things.

David John Pike, the Canadian baritone who, like Isabelle Trüb, lives in the Grand-Duchy, has a powerful, generous and malleable voice, that he puts to use with rare sensitivity in beautiful texts by Shakespeare, Stevenson, George Herbert and William Barnes, set to music by Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gerald Finzi, composers who are greatly appreciated across the Channel, even though too little recognised here.

With pointed diction and a vocal output which is downright blossoming (this voice has every quality for operatic stage) in Songs of Travel by Vaughan Williams as well as in a humorous glimpse in Blackmwore by the Stour, a more reflective and agreeably poetic David John Pike scrupulously unravels the subtle meanderings of the more intimate pieces.  It is an itinerary that does not necessarily look for the easiest routes and on the other hand, does not fear hazardous heights or unexpected turns.  

As a true echo of these enchanting sounds, Isabelle Trüb shows great sensitivity and admirable flexibility in the colours of her piano accompaniment, never ceasing to explore all the psychological finesses.  Indeed, at the end of hearing, if the listener still finds that these compositions remind him of English folklore, it is not gratuitous or easygoing folklore, but a witness to the quality of the music and its interpreters.

It is assuredly – and this judgement has nothing to do with sycophancy – the exemplary interpretation of repertoire that is often neglected outside Britain – and a recording to which one will listen with pleasure, again and again.

Luxemburger Wort (Translation)