Butterworth: Shropshire Lad (Songs From A Shropshire Lad/ Folk Songs From Sussex) (Iain Burnside/ Roderick Williams) (Naxos: 8.572426)
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One of England's most distinctive composers, George Butterworth belonged to the generation of young men decimated in the Great War of 1914-1918. His sensitive and melancholic settings of poems from A. E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad, with their subject matter of the futility and arbitrariness of war, are small-scale masterpieces. Of particular note are the 'Loveliest of Trees', describing the passing of the seasons, and the ghostly and elegiac 'Is my team ploughing?' The Folk Songs from Sussex and settings of poems by R. L. Stevenson, Shelley and Wilde, whose subject matter revolves around flirtation, love, courtship, marriage and desertion, are no less notable for their attention to detail, linguistic nuance and delicate, economical piano writing.