Tempo

Maconchy’s Sun Moon and Stars crops up in a recital by Alison Smart, a member of the BBC Singers and a soloist in the première of Giles Swayne’s Havoc at this year’s Proms. Hers is a clear voice, pure in tone but with a tendency to the shrill in the highest reaches, as in the Maconchy songs, or in the first of Robin Holloway’s Robert Graves settings (1980-1). Set next to Chadwell’s, as in Sun, Moon and Stars, Smart can sound rather clinical, but elsewhere in her varied programme of British song since 1970 she shows that she has a fine range of expressiveness. She is heard at her best in Judith Weir’s colourful and characterful Scotch Minstrelsy (1986), Gabriel Jackson’s Liadan Laments (1988) and – unaccompanied – in Lefanu’s magisterial cantata But Stars Remaining (1970), one of her finest and most closely argued works. She is ably supported by Katharine Durran, who does her own solo turn – the two solos from Maxwell Davies’s Yellow Cake Review (1980) – very nicely. Metier’s sound is admirably clear.

—Guy Rickards