The fertile landscape of Welsh music is being nurtured by Tŷ Cerdd, the forum for promoting Welsh music past and present. Its latest album, Taliesin’s Songbook (Ty Cerdd), features a stylistic cross-section of songs in Welsh and English from the 20th and 21st centuries, by William Mathias, Mark Bowden, Gareth Glyn, Rhian Samuel and more. With Andrew Matthews-Owen as pianist on all but two tracks, the singers are first rank: sopranos Susan Bullock, Rebecca Evans, Elin Manahan Thomas and Natalya Romaniw; tenor Elgan Llŷr Thomas and baritone Gareth Brynmor John, with harpist Catrin Finch. Among the highlights: impassioned songs from Arwel Hughes’s opera Menna, Grace Williams’s The Loom and Huw Watkins’s Auden setting, Eyes look into the well. Two songs by the tragically short-lived Morfydd Owen (1891-1918) stand out: melancholy and affecting, and beautifully sung by Romaniw.
Fiona Maddocks, The Observer 13.06.21
Featuring songs by Welsh composers of the 20th and 21st centuries, Taliesin’s Songbook has been curated and created by pianist Andrew Matthews-Owen, who brought many vocal luminaries of the Welsh classical world to Cardiff’s Tŷ Cerdd to record over the last year – an accomplishment in itself. Compositions come from the well-known and recently deceased, such as Alun Hoddinott, to the lesser known and very much alive – including the excellent Mark Bowen. The music is treated with warmth, understanding and sensitivity, but without any unnecessary reverence.
This collection is designed to keep the exceptional tradition of Welsh composition alive in its home nation, and to spread the word of its successes around the world. Based on the level of performance and standard of writing on these 22 pieces, the task will be easily met. Standout performance, for me, came early on with Rebecca Evans’ stunning soprano voice gliding over Edward-Evans’ setting of Yeats’ Cloths Of Heaven, while Elin Malhan-Thomas’ dexterity on Rhian Samuel’s unaccompanied Yr Arlach is a real treat and shows just how far the art song medium has been carried forward by Welsh hands and Welsh voices.
★ ★ ★ ★★
John-Paul Davies, buzzmag.com 04.06.21