American Recorder

John Turner’s elegant playing figures prominently in five of the eight works on this recording. The compositions by English composer Nicholas Marshall carry on the lyrical, pastoral lineage so audible in Ralph Vaughan Williams’s music. Turner conveys the beauty and substance of that lineage with much grace. This may be a greater accomplishment than first appears, as it would be tempting to fall into sentimentality in this music. Marshall’s work does not deserve that, nor do the performers here need to resort to a saccharine interpretation.

Tenor James Gilchrist sings with wonderful diction, such that the lyrics are crystal clear. His voice works marvell ously with Turner’s recorder (as well as the playing of the other musicians) in settings of poetry by well-known poets (e.g. Thomas Hardy and W.B. Yeats) and the less-familiar James Reeves. Virtuosic playing shines in the Recorder Concerto and The Nightingale (Fantasia on a Welsh folk-song), both scored for alto recorder and string quartet. Settings of four familiar folk songs for tenor, recorder and piano conclude this tour of Marshall’s work.

This recording works best in the higher sound quality of the CD, rather than the mp3 files. The accompanying booklet is helpful in grouping the tracks together into the eight larger works, as each movement is its own track. The inclusion of the lyrics supports the enjoyment of the songs, as do the brief notes on the compositions and the performers. Fortunately, the iTunes download includes the digital version of the CD booklet as well.

—Tom Bickley