Benjamin Britten

Elaine Siversen
Fine Music (2MBS) (Australia)
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This is an excellent teaming of a relatively unknown tenor with an acclaimed conductor who happens to be a pianist. Simone Young, in this unfamiliar role, very ably accompanies tenor Steve Davislim in very enjoyable renditions of Britten’s folksong arrangements. A while ago, I reviewed these same works sung by Peter Pears with Britten accompanying. I didn’t give it a good review as Pears was past his peak at the time of recording. But even at his peak, I don’t believe that he sang these beautiful, simple songs as well as Australian tenor, Steve Davislim.

Davislim, who has studied with Joan Hammond, Gösta Winbergh and Luigi Alva and other esteemed singers, has twice been awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubile Award. He has sung leading roles with the Zurich Opera and La Scala, Milan and at the Salzburg Festival, to name a few, and appeared with orchestras in Australia, Europe and United States under many leading conductors. He has also sung in oratorio and Passions. Considering the dramatic power needed for most of this repertoire, it is pleasing that his Britten performances are sensitive, light-hearted where needed, and above all, expressive. His voice has warmth and depth; almost a baritone quality.

Most of the songs are very familiar, such as The Ash Grove, The Miller of Dee, The Foggy, Foggy Dew, and so on but they include some less familiar ones such as some of Thomas Moore’s Irish Melodies: Avenging and Bright, How Sweet the Answer, and Dear Harp of my Country.