Michael Csányi-Wills: Songs With Orchestra

Michael Csányi-Wills: Songs With Orchestra

These orchestral songs by the English composer Michael Csányi-Wills (b. 1975) all deal with the subject of loss. In Three Songs – Budapest, 1944 Csányi-Wills uses documentation from his own family history to shadow the fate of Hungary’s Jews under the Nazis. Mortality is an omnipresent theme in A. E. Housman’s Shropshire Lad poems. And Elegy for Our Time sets an anguished lament by Jessica d’Este, sparked by the death of her granddaughter in a car crash. Csányi-Wills responds to the stimulus of these dark texts with music that is hauntingly lyrical and elegiac.

Ilona Domnich, soprano
Nicky Spence, tenor
Jacques Imbrailo, baritone
Chris McKay, horn
Londamis Ensemble
Mark Eager, conductor
First recordings

5 out of 5 based on 1 customer rating
(2 customer reviews)
Select a Format:

Catalogue No: TOCC0329
EAN/UPC: 5060113443298
Release Date: 04.12.2015
Composer: Michael Csány-Wills
Artists: Chris McKay, Ilona Domnich, Jacques Imbrailo, Londamis Ensemble, Mark Eager, Nicky Spence

2 reviews for Michael Csányi-Wills: Songs With Orchestra

  1. :

    “The disc opens with three songs subtitled Budapest… The music speaks of affection and mourning, rather than of violence, protest or despair; as I have come to expect from Csányi-Wills’s music over the years, it is expertly crafted and redolent of tense underlying emotion. … Ilona Domnich sings them simply and expressively… In his note Csányi-Wills states that he wished to express the deeper emotions in Housman that was not always present in earlier settings of the poetry. The first three are settings for baritone, and Jacques Imbrailo adds further laurels to his crown… in his expressive handling of the texts; his delivery of lines such as “Dinner will be cold” chills the blood. … Carpenter’s son, the third song, is a violent protest by the man condemned to death by hanging… Csányi-Wills conjures up a real storm from the orchestra, but Imbrailo rides it triumphantly. The three songs for tenor are likewise superbly taken by Nicky Spence. … Throughout all these songs I observed with enjoyment the composer’s natural sense of rhythmic declamation, which means that the words are nearly always crystal clear… The poem Elegy for our time by Jessica d’Este continues Housman’s themes of “death and the waste of innocent, vulnerable youth”; … It perhaps shows Csányi-Wills moving into a new direction, although the sense of emotional engagement remains as strong as ever. … Ilona Domnich drains all the warmth and vibrato from her voice at the lines “extinguished talent, lifeless, temperance, dust” – and the result is chillingly intense. … This is a recording of real value which should appeal not only to those who like Housman and are interested in settings of his poetry, but anyone who wants to encounter modern music which makes an immediate emotional connection to the listener.” –Music Web International, February 2016

  2. 5 out of 5
    5 out of 5


    “Michael Csányi-Wills trained at the Royal Academy of Music, but listening to the songs in Three Songs: Budapest 1944 I was struck by the European influences finding traces of Mahler and Kurt Weill in the writing. Csányi-Wills also writes for films and his orchestral writing has a wonderful immediacy, fluency and complexity. … Csányi-Wills writes tonal, lyrical vocal lines which soprano Ilona Domnich sings in a powerfully expressive manner, bringing her beautiful distinctive voice to bear on music which is both attractive and powerfully intense. The final song, with its cries of ‘vergesst mich nicht’ (don’t forget me) is particularly striking with its almost Mahlerian bleakness. … [Six AE Housman Songs:] The move to English brings a sense of the English lyrical pastoral into the mix. But there is still that sense of complexity and drama, along with a magical sense of orchestra sonority. These are in no sense conventional English settings of Housman, and Csányi-Wills European sensibility brings a darkness and expressionist feel to the music. … By contrast ‘White in the Moon’ is wonderfully transcendental whilst ‘As through the wild green hills of Wyre’ is large and complex. These are long, big songs (the six songs last almost 40 minutes) and both Jacques Imbrailo and Nicky Spence impress with both their commitment to the songs, and the lyrical intensity of their performances. … The final song sets a poem by Jessica d’Este which is a meditation on death, and the waste of innocent vulnerable youth. The bleakly powerful lyric arioso for Ilona Domnich is surrounded by a web of magical orchestration (with woodblocks making a strong feature). Throughout, Mark Eager and the Londamis Ensemble play with a strong sense of the emotional character of the music. The performances from Ilona Domnich, Nicky Spence and Jacques Imbrailo, the Londamis Ensemble and Mark Eager have a high finish and sheen which belies the fact that they are all first recordings. This is a highly satisfying disc of music by a very distinctive talent.” –Planet Hugill, February 2016

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *