Friday, 19 June 2009

Britten: Folk Song Arrangements sung by Steve Davislim

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Folksong Arrangements: 1. The Salley Gardens; 2. Little Sir William; 3. The Bonny Earl o 'Moray; 4. The Trees They Grow So High; 5. The Ash Grove; 6. Oliver Cromwell; 7. The Plough Boy; 8. Sweet Polly Oliver; 9. The Miller of Dee; 10. The Foggy, Foggy Dew; 11. O Waly, Waly; 12. Come You Not From Newcastle; 13. The Brisk Young Widow; 14. Sally in Our Alley; 15. Early One Morning; 16. Ca' the Yowes; 17. Tom Bowling; 18. Greensleeves; 19. Avenging and Bright; 20. How Sweet the Answer; 21. The Minstrel Boy; 22. Dear Harp of My Country; 23. Oft in the Stilly Night; 24. The Last Rose of Summer Steve Davislim (tenor); Simone Young (piano) MELBA RECORDINGS MR 301120
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I recently had the pleasure of reviewing this fine CD from Melba Recordings in Australia. I began my review with a little reminsicience...
“I first heard The Salley Gardens some 37 years ago. It was in the music department of my old school, Coatbridge High. One of the sixth-formers was preparing for a recital, and Britten's arrangement was part of this. At that time, I was 'into' Richard Strauss's Four Last Songs and Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder, so Britten's arrangement came as a surprise. It was simple, straight-to-the-point and quite simply beautiful. Even at sixteen years old I thought it was one of the loveliest things I had ever heard”.
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After a brief resume of the various recordings of this fine music, and noting that “the fundamental recording is by the composer and Peter Pears on Decca London. Love him or loathe him, Pears is the touchstone for all subsequent recordings...”

I felt that “the present CD...is superb. It is does not supersede any past recordings, but it is well and truly in the trajectory of Pears, Ferrier, Langridge, Thomas Allen et al. Steve Davislim, a fine Australian tenor, is able to generate a wide variety of moods as he tackles each of these songs. His vocalism is perfectly capable of showing joy, sadness, happiness, fear, tragedy and wit as he progresses from song to song and verse to verse. There are many surprises, delight and felicities in these pages.

This is a great CD. I am only sorry that it comprises only extracts from the 'collected' works, and is not a complete edition. Yet I guess that is largely impossible for a single soloist. Positively, this is a fine introduction to some of the loveliest and most attractive songs in the vocal repertoire. They are, by and large, beautifully performed by both the singer and the accompanist. And most importantly of all I feel that Steve Davislim thoroughly enjoys singing these songs.
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Please read the full review at MusicWeb International

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