Butterworth, G Complete Butterworth Songbook
The label is Mark Stone’s, his the informative notes, and he is of course also the very good singer: we are much indebted to him. Most of us know Butterworth in association with AE Housman – the Shropshire Lad Rhapsody and the six songs, with possibly a few additional songs such as “Bredon Hill”. As for Butterworth’s life, as Mark Stone says, what is still best known about that is his death at the age of 31 on the Western Front in 1916. Its poignancy is driven home by this collection of his songs, which helps greatly to clarify an individuality both sympathetic and distinctive.
It will also do no harm at all to Mark Stone’s already considerable reputation as a singer. As many amateur baritones will have discovered, the Shropshire Lad songs do not always sit as comfortably on the voice as may be supposed. The third song, “Look not in my eyes”, is an example, and it suits Mark Stone admirably. Stephen Barlow is his excellent pianist and together they give a particularly fine performance of “On the idle hill of summer”, the masterpiece among the Housman settings. Enjoyable too are the folksong arrangements, and an unexpected bonus is a short piece of film (playable on the CD through a computer) in which Butterworth is seen dancing.