Sunday Times

METIER is devoted not only to independent-minded British composers but performers too. Here the impressive soprano Alison Smart, of the BBC Singers, makes her recorded debut as a recitalist, accompanied by Katharine Durran (whose complete Bach Toccatas is available on MSV CD2001). They offer an interesting selection of songs, often with a folkish flavour. James MacMillan’s three Soutar settings have a timeless remote lyricism. Judith Weir’s poignant song-cycle Scotch Minstrelsy is witty and spare, though not as spare as Gabriel Jackson’s Liadan Laments, a terse but passionate etting of an Irish elegy. Robin Holloway’s Grave’s cycle, Wherever We May Be, is typically fetching; George Nicholson’s Peripheral Visions deliberately dessicated and droll. The Traherne prose and verse settings of the late Elizabeth Maconchy’s Sun, Moon and Stars are powerful. Her daughter, Nicola LeFanu’s But Stars Remaining provides a solo vehicle for Smart, and Durran gives two little Orcadian solos by Maxwell Davies.

—Paul Driver