As part of the new 2018 expansion of Classicalexburns, I am starting to take on reviews (of events, concerts and CDs), and I am really pleased to be writing this review on Daniel Thomson debut solo album Secret Fires of Love.
According to the CD notes, Secret Fires of Love:
“Tells the story of intense love through songs ranging from the amorous yearnings for a country lass to the burning desires of tormented souls. This exploration of the multifaceted outpourings of lovers focuses on some of the most dramatic music written between the late 16th and 18th centuries, a time when performers prized the impassioned delivery of texts.”
The album is 19 tracks long, and each one exhibits a real sense of character, which is expertly portrayed by tenor, Daniel Thomson. Thomson is accompanied flawlessly by Terry McKenna (Lute and Guitars), and Thomas Leininger (Harpsichord). These are musicians of such a high calibre, and under the direction of Robert Toft, their mission to create a historically informed narrative of songs is certainly reached. The way that the musicians have interpreted this music is explained by Toft further:
“In Secret Fires of Love, the performers take a fresh approach to Renaissance and Baroque songs by treating the texts freely to transform inexpressive notation into passionate musical declamation. Daniel Thomson adopts the persona of a storyteller, and like singers of the past, he uses techniques of rhetorical delivery to re-create the natural style of performance listeners from the era would have heard.”
This album is clever in its concept, not least because it showcases some more unknown works, by a range of European composers from the Renaissance and Baroque eras. Composers such as Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643), Thomas Campion (1567-1620), Henry Purcell (1659-1695), and Tommaso Giordani (c.1733-1806) all feature on this album with many other European contemporaries. Thomson’s articulation of phrases really plays to the dramaturgy of the texts, which is then creatively accompanied by McKenna and Leininger. The musicians are sympathetic in their performance of these rather delicate songs, and the improvisation from them all is commendable, and of course, most enjoyable.
What I perhaps enjoy the most about this album is the initmacy that is created by the quality of the recordings. Recorded at the EMAC Recording Studios in London, the whole album makes you feel like you’re in the same room as the musicians, making each listen incredibly special. The handling of the theme of love really pays homage to some of Europe’s finest Renaissance and Baroque composers. I particularly enjoy track 15 What a sad fate is mine by Henry Purcell. The execution of this beautifully written work is expertly handled, and the text, which suggests that love is a crime, is certainly portrayed by Thomson’s lamenting vocals, and Leininger’s atmospheric harpsichord accompaniment.
After Daniel Thomson kindly sent me a copy of Secret Fires of Love, I have been overwhelmingly satisfied by the content. Not only is it intelligently performed, but it is also highly enjoyable, and accessible for anybody who would like to immerse themselves into the world of Renaissance music. Bravo to all involved, I cannot recommend this album enough.
© Alex Burns 2018
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