The compositions of John Jeffreys (b.1927) are mainly songs for voice and piano, and of the songs heard on this recording the most recently composed was written in 1981. Eight of the 26 songs are recorded here for the first time. Most of them are in the style of Warlock, Ireland, Vaughan Williams, and Finzi – and they are worthy of comparison to those much better-known composers. Jeffreys picked good texts by Shakespeare, Gurney, Housman, Yeats and some lesser-known poets. The first set of seven songs, Songs of Love , all present gentle, lilting melodies that have a certain sameness to them; but others show a sharper edge and a more strident tonal language. He has an exceptional ability to create a variety of musical expressions that fit the words.
If you are not familiar with Jeffreys and if you like 20 th Century English songs, you will not want to pass this up. Even if you’re not familiar with that literature, Gilchrist’s voice will win you over. One of the leading English tenors of our time, Gilchrist has a light lyric voice that will remind you of Martyn Hill of Andrew Kennedy – and he’s almost as good as them. His voice has a gentleness, warmth and sweetness that is just right for these songs; and his enunciation is impeccable.
His primary [sic… piano?] accompanist, Anna Tilbrook, proves to be an admirable artist as well. Some of these songs were recorded in 1997 by Ian Partridge with his sister Jennifer for Meridian, but neither the recorded sound nor the performance is as good as this. Good notes and texts are supplied.