Simon Heffer celebrates SOMM’s 25th Anniversary with an article titled “In classical music, there’s one label I can always count on” in The Telegraph:
“One of the glories of classical music today is Somm Recordings. Established in 1995 and celebrating its silver jubilee, Somm has concentrated on discovering and rediscovering British composers, while also producing over 300 discs of (among others) Mozart, Beethoven, Janacek, Poulenc and Shostakovich. Its catalogue includes archive material and state-of-the-art recordings. An archive issue first introduced me to Somm in 2007: possibly the finest recording available of Vaughan Williams’s Fifth Symphony, from the broadcast of a Prom in 1952 with the composer conducting. It also contains a breathtaking account of the same composer’s 1936 cantata Dona Nobis Pacem, its first broadcast performance, again conducted by Vaughan Williams.
Some recent releases maintain the high and eclectic standards for which Somm is renowned. I wrote here a year ago of Ian Venables, when I had the great privilege of attending the first performance of his Requiem. Somm have recorded it, in a subtle but gripping performance by the choir of Gloucester Cathedral, conducted by Adrian Partington, with the organist Jonathan Hope. …. If you think of new English music as hard on the ear and bereft of melody, Venables will force you to reconsider.
Somm has just issued three discs of British song, two featuring the mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge. She is steadily establishing herself in the front rank of British singers, as comfortable in the opera house as in a recital of modern song. One is of songs by Hamilton Harty, better remembered now as a leading conductor of the interwar period. Harty’s Irish roots are apparent in some but by no means all of his songs; a predominant wistfulness runs through them that Rudge’s delightfully vintage voice captures perfectly.…
Somm have also just released a disc of songs by Arthur Somervell, one of the most respected composers of his generation who is too little known today, sung by the incomparable baritone Roderick Williams. …
Four years ago Somm issued a disc of Stanford’s fifth and eighth string quartets, and has completed the series with discs of the first, second and sixth and the third, fourth and seventh, played by the Dante Quartet and none of them ever recorded before. The eight were written between 1891, when Stanford was 38, and 1919, five years before his death. They owe much to Brahms and Joachim and have very much a 19th century feel to them, even up to the last one. The Dante play them with feeling and precision, and show a side to the composer that reaches the depths of his soul, if not of his creativity. It is the sort of music that Somm has always made a point of bringing before the public, and I believe we are better for it.—Simon Heffer, The Telegraph
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