Traditional Welsh Songs for Tenor and Harp – CR4114
£9.99 – £23.99
“You do not need to be Welsh, to understand Welsh or even to know anything about Wales to recognise in this enchanting disc a rare example of magical and compelling music-making using the simplest but most enchanting of materials”
“When he sings solo, as he does in the touching song Hiraeth (Yearning) it’s with straight-as-a-die intonation and real bardic simplicity”
S o n g T e x t s
Born in Tregaron, Wales, Huw Rhys-Evans won the Blue Riband Prize for the Singer of the Year at the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales and on three occasions, the Tenor Solo Award. Following studies with Kenneth Bowen at the Royal Academy of Music, he was awarded the Tenor Prize at the 1990 Great Grimsby International Competition for Singers and completed his studies at the National Opera Studio.
Huw Rhys-Evans is particularly celebrated as a singer of Rossini, his engagements include Carlo/Goffredo in Armida,the title role Le Comte Ory and Torvaldo from Torvaldo e Dorliska at the Rossini in Wildbad Festival, Count Almaviva from The Barber of Seville for Opera North and Spier Opera,South Africa, Pilade from Ermione, Idreno fromSemiramide for Chelsea Opera Group and Belfiore from Il Viaggio a Reims at the Palace of Verseille and the Strasbourg Music Festival.
Other Operatic engagements have included Harris from Uncle Remus for Pegasus Opera, Flute from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Brighella from Ariadne Auf Naxos for English Touring Opera. Vivaldo form Die Hochzeit des Camacho at the Flanders International Festival, Duca Ottavio form Don Giovanni (Gazzaniga) and Errico La Vera Costanza for Bampton Classical Opera, (for the latter, he was cited as amongst Who’s Hot by OPERA NOW), Ferrando Cosi Fan Tutte for Madrid Comic Opera, Opera d’Automne and Tours Opera, Don Ottavio from Don Giovanni for Perth Festival Opera, Belmonte from Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail for Opera Project, Nadir from The Philosopher’s Stone for Collegium Musicum 90 (broadcast on BBC Radio 3), Pang from Turandot for Lyric Opera Dublin, Pong from Turandot for Mid-Wales Opera, Brighella from Ariadne Auf Naxos for the Norwegian State Opera, Young Servand from Electra at the BBC Proms, First Jew from Salome for the Bastille Opera, Third Jew from Salome for Merseille Opera, and Hyllus for Handel Hercules at the Varazdin Baroque Festival Croatia with the Welsh Baroque Orchestra. Huw Rhys-Evans made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2001 and is particularly celebrated as an interpereter of the Evangelist in the J.S. Bach Passions. His concert engagements have taken him throughout the UK as well as to France, Germany, Italy, Canada, USA, The Netherlands and Singapore.
Huw sung the role of Filippo in Haydn’s Opera L’infedelita Delusa with Aix-en. Provence Touring Opera Company when touring in Europe.
He has broadcast for BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night and his recordings include Judge in Le Calife de Bagdad, Gouvy Cantata Egill and Stabat Mater, Vivaldo in Die Hochzeit des Camacho ‘Torvaldo e Dorliska’ by Rossini for Naxos and Traditional Songs for Tenor & Harp (in Welsh) for Claudio Records label (CR4114-2 CD & CR4114-6 Pure Audio HD 192 Blu-ray disc)
Ieuan Jones was born and brought up in Mid-Wales and started playing the harp at the age of six with Frances Mon Jones.
At the age of 13, he was the youngest member of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales. Shortly afterwards Jones went on to join the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. In 1981 he gained a scholarship to study with Marisa Robles at the Royal College of Music. After four years at the RCM, winning all the major prizes including the Tagore Gold Medal and the Queen Mothers Rose Bowl for the most distinguished student of his year, he won he Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition in 1985 (only the second harpist to do so in the history of this competition). He was the runner up at the Israel International Harp Competition in the same year.
While still a student he was appointed harpist to the House of Commons; an appointment which went on for 13 years, and has not since been repeated.
Jones has played for audiences all over the world, concerto appearances include the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Teatro de la Maestranza during the Seville EXPO and recitals including Melbourne Festival, Hong Kong City Hall, Madrid, Rome, Paris and many more. He is a member of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music’s diploma examiners and is regularly invited as a member of international competition panels worldwide.
In 1997 Jones was appointed Professor of Harp at the Royal College of Music and in 2016 was awarded the Fellowship of the Royal College of Music.
“…harpist of exceptional musical imagination and stylistic panache” Hilary Finch, The Times
“…one of the most talented harpists…of any generation” Nicanor Zabaleta
“Pure wizardry…”The Philippine Star
“Jones is an instrumentalist who seems welded to his instrument by more than career choice. He convinces you that while he is playing, nothing else matters: an amazingly focused musician.” The Age, Australia.
“…he is outstandingly gifted….” Sir Georg Solti
Music Web International – Review I
Back in 2000 Bryn Terfel recorded a disc of traditional Welsh songs for DG, presented in sensitive orchestral arrangements and delivered with what we might describe as characteristic Terfel flair. With that single disc, he opened the eyes of the international record-collecting community to some of the golden treasures of the repertory, often overlooked by singers outside Wales because of their Welsh language texts (Welsh is a language which does not readily give up its magic in translation). Terfel effectively put the Welsh language and the Welsh song repertory slap bang into the centre of the international stage.
Those of us who have lived and worked in Wales have long known the wonders of the Welsh song repertory, but it still remains something of a niche market so far as record companies outside Wales have been concerned. Here we have a disc which by all the laws of natural justice should have become a big hit when it was first recorded almost three decades ago, yet has remained in an obscure backwater, unremarked upon or even noticed by the outside world.
By resurrecting the disc and releasing it also as an audio Blu-ray (this review works only with the original CD version), the Sussex-based Claudio Records label possibly hopes to make more of a splash on the market. They certainly deserve to, for this is a wonderful disc; truly ardderchog as Welsh speakers would put it.
Huw Rhys-Evans has gone a long way since this recording was made, but the delicious purity and clarity of his voice as it was in 1991, its flawless pitching, its delectable diction and its impeccable technical control is something rare and wonderful, and timeless. From his first entry in the famous Ar hyd y noswhich lends its title (in translation) to the whole disc, it is clear that we are in the presence of some astonishingly beguiling singing. His delivery of Tra bo dau is simply gorgeous, while the incredible purity of his tone keeps us breathlessly spellbound throughout the 2:40 of unaccompanied singing which we have in Hiraeth. Every song is presented with the same magical poise and almost caressing sense of line, and whether or not the words mean anything to you, few would be unenchanted by Rhys-Evans’s singing. Certainly one would neither need nor want the distraction of the sung texts and their translations to savour to the full magic of these 17 songs, and while the pretty hideous booklet which comes with the CD offers nothing of any value other than some rather dated biographies of the two performers, anyone seeking full texts and translations can access them via the Claudio Records website. (http://www.claudiorecords.com/pdfs/cr4114_songs.pdf)
Ieuan Jones is the ever-sensitive and alert harpist, following the ebb and flow of Rhys-Evans’s singing with an almost uncanny perceptiveness. And if Jones seems particularly committed to these enchanting arrangements – simple yet absorbing – that is because they all seem to have been made by him (although I apologise if they were not – the booklet is vague on the issue of authorship). There are three tracks given over to harp solos – Merch Megan, Llwyn Onn (the well-known “Ash Grove”) and Dafydd y Garreg Wen – and while these tend to have something of the faded atmosphere of the parlour song about them, one can at least enjoy some fine, decorative harp playing here.
You do not need to be Welsh, to understand Welsh or even to know anything about Wales to recognise in this enchanting disc a rare example of magical and compelling music-making using the simplest but most enchanting of materials.
Music Web International – Review II
This isn’t a new release. It’s been in the Claudio catalogues for well over a decade now. Its resilience reflects well on a company that manages to retain a comprehensive back catalogue. If only the majors adopted such an accountant-free approach.
The programme is self-explanatory, which is just as well because the notes are almost entirely devoted to biographies of the two musicians. Everyone will recognise, whether in English or in Welsh, at least three or four songs – devotees naturally will be familiar with more.
Huw Rhys-Evans has a lyric tenor – quite high-lying and seemingly easy of production. It was no great surprise to read that he’d sung Ferrando in Così nor that he’d sung Tamino. Of late he’s perhaps better known as a Rossinian of real distinction and as a Bach Evangelist. This Claudio was almost certainly his first major venture on disc. Back in 1991 we find his voice in youthful, fresh estate and conveying the songs with generosity and sentiment.
He manages the very high tessitura of the second verse of Ar hyd Y nos (All through the night) with something approaching alacrity. When he sings solo, as he does in the touching song Hiraeth (Yearning) it’s with straight-as-a-die intonation and real bardic simplicity. Such bardic affiliations are reinforced by what is one of the most beautiful of all these settings, that of Claddu’r Bardd O gariad (The burial of the lovesick bard) – one of the Seven songs on poems in the Cywydd metre – and graced by mournful harp arpeggios and a keening in the voice. Talking of harp arpeggios brings us neatly to Ieuan Jones. His virtuosity is never in doubt and fortunately he has solo opportunities to prove it. I was especially taken by Merch Megan (Megan’s daughter) in which the world of the late nineteenth century French operatic paraphrase is never too far away. His playing of that staple Dafydd y garreg wen or David of the white rock is penetratingly expressive and noble of utterance – devilishly fast fingers as well. And hear how Rhys-Evans relishes, indeed is lasciviously in love with, the lisping consonants of Hiraeth am yr Haf (Yearning for Summer).
This was recorded in a big acoustic with a long decay – but it’s only noticeable when songs end and doesn’t interfere with one’s pleasure. Incidentally Y deryn pur was often known as The Faithful Bird but is here The Pure Bird – violinist Albert Sammons arranged, published and recorded it during the First World War. Not a lot of people know that.