Nottingham Evening Post

Much of A.E.Housman’s poetry was published before the First World War. It appealed to numerous English song composers of the early 20 th Century, such as Vaughan Williams and John Ireland, and it continues to attract composers today. Manchester-trained John Ramsden Williamson, born in 1929, has more than 100 Housman settings to his name. Half of the 20 examples on this CD address the subjects of sorrow and regret. There are elegiac war lyrics like “The lads in their hundreds”, several pastoral pieces, and the Easter Hymn from a posthumous collection. In his music, Williamson consistently matches the emotional nuances of Housman’s measured verses. Baritone Mark Rowlinson and his pianist range effectively from the lyrical to the dramatic – “’Tis five years since” is particularly arresting. A couple of Siegfried Sassoon settings and Williamson’s three early songs on love lyrics by Byron and Coleridge complete the disc.

—Peter Parker