Insomnia: a nocturnal voyage in song

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For his solo debut on disc, William Berger has devised an ingenious sequence of seventeen songs describing a sleepless night experienced by a man who reflects on his love for an unnamed woman. From Viennese classicism to fin-de-siècle Romanticism, shadowy English pastoral to the contemporary worlds of Richard Rodney Bennett and Raymond Yiu, this wide-ranging programme is brought to nuanced life by an outstanding young baritone, while the indefatigable Iain Burnside provides lucid and imaginative accompaniment. Together, their performances capture the full gamut of nocturnal emotions.

"Berger's grainy baritone is pleasing more than awe-inspiring...But he communicates with keen enthusiasm, and his word-lively Mozart Abendempfindung immediately draws the listener in to this artfully selected and ordered programme. With Iain Burnside as accompanist, there are light-filled starry nights aplenty"

"Burnside handles everything with aplomb and insight"

"Berger is a gem of a singer"

"Berger has a warm, resonant baritone and an hour spent in its company is a pleasurable experience…the partnership between Berger and Iain Burnside yields some fine performances."

"Much in this recital gives satisfaction and pleasure. First of all comes the sound of the voice, warm, full, smoothly emitted and steady. One notes too the use of legato, enabling lines and notes to flow"

"His tone is beautiful, his technique immaculate. He does extraordinary things with breath control in Oh! Quand Je Dors and Wolf's Um Mitternacht, and his sense of line is exceptional...Iain Burnside is wonderfully responsive to his shifts in mood and style. An idiosyncratic disc, but very fine."

"[the programme] plays out its chronological narrative – songs depicting specific hours of a sleepless night – with logical and psychological inevitability...Berger sustains a magnetic affection throughout the varied sequence, aided by Iain Burnside’s deft pianism"

"[Burnside] is unfailingly sensitive and powerfully communicative throughout. The dreamy undulations of Mandoline are a knockout, as is the gently suggestive accompaniment to Wolf’s Um Mitternacht, to name but two examples."

"You’ll be beguiled by Berger’s voice and entranced by the more left-field musical choices...Songs by Wolf and Liszt dominate post-midnight, and after Morgen we get a couple of encores, including a tiny Gounod number sufficiently breezy to banish the introspective mood and leave one feeling invigorated, not depressed"

Producer: Paul Baxter
Recording venue(s): Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh
Recording dates: 13-14 February 2012
Physical format: Jewel case
Number of discs: 1
Number of tracks: 19
Release date: 30 July 2012
Total playing time: 0:55:42
Album ID: DCD34116

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