AFTER five years, celebrated Welsh bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel is back with his eagerly-anticipated new studio album Dreams and Songs – to be released on 19th October on Deutsche Grammophon. It’s a collection of his favourite tunes, recorded in brand new orchestral versions and including some special guest duets.

Acclaimed worldwide for tackling the biggest opera roles, Sir Bryn’s new album shows his lighter side with popular concert pieces, traditional Welsh songs, musical hits and entertaining encores.

"They are all songs I've sung for many, many years but usually at the end of concerts," says Sir Bryn, on the phone from Montreal, Canada, where he is currently touring.

"I'm aiming this towards my British followers and I've worked with some amazing collaborators - I wish in many ways it had been a double album!"

In 2007, the 52-year-old appeared as Sweeney Todd in the Stephen Sondheim musical at the Royal Festival Hall in London, before reprising the role seven years later, when he co-starred with Dame Emma Thompson who he collaborates with on Do You Love Me from Fiddler on the Roof.

"I'm a huge fan of the film version of Fiddler on the Roof and a few years ago I actually got to meet Topol before I played the role of Τevye," he says. "I texted Emma and lo and behold she had one day free so she came to Abbey Road the day after it was announced she was being made a Dame, so of course the champagne corks should have been popping but there was work to be done and instead she was on the hot water and honey because she was feeling under the weather.

"Thankfully after about an hour her voice had warmed up and we were able to give them about ten renditions of the duet and I'm so pleased we've been able to choose a couple of selections from Fiddler on the Roof."

A proud patron of the Welsh language and Welsh culture, Sir Bryn was born in 1965 into a Welsh farming family in Pant Glas, Caernarfonshire. He showed promise in music from a very early age and was taught to sing traditional Welsh songs by a family friend before going on to win numerous competitions.

"If you look back on my discography I think my pallet has developed over the years but there's been a Welsh album and a Christmas album with Welsh songs on it so you can see that the apple doesn't fall far from the big Welsh oak tree," he laughs. "Even a song like The Fields of Athenry which is about the Irish famine has been adopted as one of the great rugby anthems and I've sung Celtic songs throughout my career.

"In the beginning I used to sing with male voice choirs and I was never going to be singing Wagner or Verdi at these concerts - I was more interested in singing the sorts of songs your mother or grandmother would have sung to you while cradling you."

Sir Bryn has established an extraordinary career since bursting onto the classical music scene in the late 1980s. Today he performs regularly on the world's most prestigious concert stages and opera houses and is a Grammy, Classic BRIT and Gramophone Award winner with a discography encompassing operas of Mozart, Wagner and Strauss, and more than 15 solo albums including lieder, American musical theatre, Welsh songs and sacred repertory. Last year he received a knighthood for his service to music.

“It’s been such a roller coaster since I turned 50, so much has happened and it’s been wonderful, I’m a very lucky man," he says.

“Going to Buckingham palace to be knighted by Her Majesty the Queen was just wonderful. To be in the company of so many tremendous public servants, sports stars and entertainers who were also being honoured that day, was humbling and just such a proud, proud day.

“It was one of the proudest days of my life if I’m honest. It’s something that’s not supposed to happen to a lad from Pant Glas, Caernarfonshire."

Another song on the album sees comedian and fellow Welshman Rob Brydon join Sir Bryn on the duet The Golfer’s Lament, a light-hearted tale of life on the fairway. The rousing romp captures their cheeky sense of humour and their shared love of the sport

“I think it describes our love of golf to a tee," says Sir Bryn. "Because of constraints in the diary most of the orchestral accompaniments were recorded in Prague and then we recorded the vocals at Abbey Road. But two songs on the album were live because Rob and I were free and I also wanted to do If I Was A Rich Man live.

"Rob came in nervously and walked down those steps into the studio where there were 90 musicians waiting and he didn't have to sing a note or say a word before everyone was smiling.

"There was a real feel good factor and we were put in our little pods to rehearse with just a piano. I had already sent him a youtube clip of John Charles Thomas singing it with Groucho Mark on an old American TV show.

"Rob studied the song and he knew it perfectly so it was great fun. I'm 6ft 4" and Rob's bum is much closer to the ground so already there was a little and large element to us two singing together.

"Sadly we've not found the time to get out on the golf course together but I'm at the Royal Opera House in London next yearand I'll be constantly buzzing his phone."

Completing the remarkable line-up of singers is tenor Alfie Boe on ‘Perhaps Love’, soprano Danielle de Niese on ‘Amazing Grace’, tenor Joseph Calleja on ‘Granada’, and soprano Katherine Jenkins on ‘Tell My Father’ from The Civil War. There is also a world premiere recording of ‘The Shepherd Poet Of Passchendaele’, written especially for Bryn by Penclawdd-born Sir Karl Jenkins, the most performed living composer. The song is inspired by the story of Welsh poet Hedd Wyn, who died on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele (the Third Battle of Ypres), with poignant lyrics written by Sir Karl’s wife – Lady Jenkins, Carol Barratt.

“It’s always a joy to be back in the recording studio, especially to record some of my favourite concert repertoire,"he adds. "Songs and duets, some humorous encores that I just adore to sing, and was champing at the bit to record.

"And how lucky I am to share the album with some incredible artists, and to record at the amazing, iconic Abbey Road. All in all, as in ‘The Fields of Athenry’, dreams and songs to sing.”

Bryn Terfel - Dreams and Songs was released on October 19 on Deutsche Grammophon