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By Christopher Gould

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By Christopher Gould and Daniel Norman. By Franz Liszt (1811-1886), Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), Duke Ellington (1899-1974), and John Dankworth (1927-). Classical. CD. Naxos #5060192780734. Published by Naxos (NX.5060192780734).

Item Number: NX.5060192780734

THis new release is a beautifully varied programme of sonnet settings which explores the many faces of love, both erotic and godly. Britten's thrilling Michelangelo Sonnets are followed by virtuosic vocal and pianistic fireworks in Liszt's Petrarch Sonnets. Next, a palate-freshening pair of Shakespeare jazz settings by Johnny Dankworth and Duke Ellington. The main programme ends with Britten's soul-searching John Donne songs. These were written, as we learn from the fascinating sleeve notes, in the heat of a fever after Britten had returned from a visit to the newly-liberated Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. As an encore, we hear a sublime performance of Liszt's Oh! quand je dors - not a sonnet, but the relevance soon becomes clear. This disc is accompanied by texts and translations, including the Symonds version of the Michelangelo sonnets that Britten used when composing - very different to the sanitised translation published in the score. Daniel Norman and Christopher Gould have been working together since they met at the Royal Academy of Music twenty years ago. They were prize winners in the 2001 Wigmore Hall International Song Competition, and have been giving recitals together ever since. This is their long-awaited third release, which vividly reveals the depth and maturity of their musical relationship.

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