English baritone James Newby has just released a debut CD (BIS-2475) on the BIS label. Titled I wonder as I wander the album features an unpredictably varied collection of Lieder thematically linked by the themes of an uprooted and restless sort of wandering and of searching often to no avail for a loved one all in an unquiet escape from loneliness.
Thus Beethoven with his Adelaide and An die ferne Geliebte and Schubert with Der Wanderer – both the lyrical Myrhofer setting and the intensely dramatic and better known Schlegel one are included, along with three somber Mahler songs: Revelge, Urlicht, and Zu Straßburg auf der Schanz.
Newby opens and ends his recital with a brace of songs by Benjamin Britten: I wonder as I wander, There’s none to soothe, At the mid hour of night, The Last Rose of Summer, and Sail on, sail on. Whether in the English or German languages, whether in the intimately Romantic Beethoven and Schubert or in the more operatic Mahler songs, James Newby displays full command of the musical and vocal challenges. He is capable of spinning a seamlessly long cantilena in The Last Rose of Summer and equally adept at a kind of jagged, semi-spoken delivery in certain moments of the Mahler Lieder. Throughout his vocal emission is even at full volume from several top F’s and G’s in Revelge to a full-voiced low E at the end of Der Wanderer.
This is, in short, an immensely promising young talent to be on the lookout for.
Pianist Joseph Middleton collaborates with James Newby throughout the more than a dozen selections in this CD with utmost attention to the pianistic and musical challenges presented by the music, achieving great results, most notably in the Mahler selections meant originally created to be performed with orchestra.
Rafael de Acha