John Mark Ainsley (tenor), The Nash Ensemble, Martyn Brabbins (conductor)
Peter Warlock's posthumous reputation rests largely on his work as a prolific writer of songs. Here we have John Mark Ainsley singing not only nine songs for tenor and string quartet but also The Curlew, Warlock's wonderful cycle setting poems by W B Yeats with accompaniment from a small orchestra. The work opens with a plaintive cry of the curlew from the cor anglais, and birdsong remains a feature throughout.
Two of the composer's three orchestral works are also recorded: the famous Capriol (here in its second version, that for string orchestra) and the less well known Serenade. The former is essentially a collection of sixteenth-century dance tunes but these are often highly embellished and dressed up in twentieth-century orchestration. (The name 'Capriol' comes from a treatise on dance written in 1588 by a canon at the cathedral of Langres.)
The Serenade is a beautiful miniature; it is dedicated to Delius and shows many influences from the older composer while adhering to Warlock's own desire for organization and close-knit cohesion.