New Zealander Teddy Tahu Rhodes is one of the most prominent lyric baritones to have established a place on the international operatic stage in the first decade of the 21st century. This collection of late Romantic and early modern British song cycles seems like it would be an ideal repertoire for the singer. Rhodes has a pleasant, warm voice that he deploys with a variety of colors, and his top is resonant and ringing. These are very fine performances and are likely to appeal to fans of operatic bel canto singing. Material as folk-like as most of this is, though, is most effective when it is presented with more of a degree of artlessness, and Rhodes tends to over-sing, treating it operatically. It sounds too scrupulously and studiously thought-out and executed and misses the unmannered spontaneity needed to put the music across with the most emotional and visceral impact. Rhodes' approach is most successful in the Vaughan Williams Songs of Travel, whose vocal lines are closer to the classical than to the folk tradition. It's in the same songs that accompanist pianist Sharolyn Kimmorley is most persuasive. Her detachment in the very simple Britten folk song settings, either sentimental or broadly humorous, seems out of place, but in the songs by Ireland, Quilter, and Finzi, she generally catches the right tone. ABC's sound is clean, present, and well-balanced.
by Stephen Eddins