Tuesday, 9 February 2010

English Song: The Soprano Sings

John IRELAND (1879-1972) My true love hath my heart Arthur BLISS (1891-1975) The buckle E. J. MOERAN (1894-1950) Strings in the earth and air Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930) Robin Good-fellow Anthony HOPKINS (b.1921) A melancholy song Roger QUILTER (1877-1953) Drooping Wings Eric THIMAN (1900-1975) The piper pipes a merry tune Arnold BAX (1883-1953) When I was one-and-twenty John IRELAND (1879-1972) I have twelve oxen Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983) On the merry first of May Roger QUILTER (1877-1953) Love's Philosophy Colin ROSS (1911-1993) The cherry hung with snow Cecil ARMSTRONG GIBBS (1889-1960) The fields are full Montague PHILLIPS (1885-1969) Crab-apple Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Speak to me, my love! Cecil ARMSTRONG GIBBS (1889-1960) Sweet sounds, begone Cyril SCOTT (1879-1970) Lullaby Cecil ARMSTRONG GIBBS (1889-1960) Why do I love? Charles Hubert Hastings PARRY (1848-1918) Three aspects Michael HEAD (1900-1976) Sweet chance Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Like to the damask rose Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983) King David William WALTON (1902-1983) Rhyme Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) The new ghost Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Let the florid music praise! Ivor GURNEY (1890-1937) Sleep Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Love went-a-riding

The CD can be bought at Penchant Recordings

I recently had the pleasure if reviewing this fine CD of English Song.

This is an impressive album. From the quality of the singing, by way of the imaginative accompaniment, to the impressive ‘batting order’ of the songs, this CD is an excellent purchase. The album introduces even the hard-bitten enthusiast of English lieder to new delights. Add to all this, a fine introductory essay which not only discusses the songs, but also suggests a philosophical framework and historical context for a better understanding of them. Finally, the sound quality is impressive, allowing the singer, the pianist and the song to be seen in the best possible light.

It is not necessary to discuss every song in detail; however I want to point out some highlights. There are a fair few ‘old favourites’ on this CD, such as Howells’ beautiful ‘King David’, Frank Bridge’s ‘Love went a riding’ and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ ‘The new ghost’. But it is the less well-known pieces and the downright rarities that add special value. The two songs that most impressed me were the great Housman setting of ‘The cherry hung with snow’ from Colin Ross and the beautiful ‘Crab-apple’ by Montague Philips. I had heard neither song before. I have not come across the composer Colin Ross, although I understand that he was one-time organist at St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne.

This is a CD that all enthusiasts of English Song will want to have in his or her collection. Lesley-Jane Rogers’ voice is ideally suited to this kind of music. She is well able to balance depth of tone with an intimacy of detail. I noted above her essay and its philosophical approach to these songs. Basically the singer and accompanist have to realise that each song is a mini-opera complete with plot, scene-setting and character. If a song suggests innocence, then this must be the mark of the interpretation: if it is slyness, then this is the keynote. It may seem obvious, but so many singers seem to have one set approach to singing that is used in every song they sing! Lesley-Jane Rogers most definitely practises what she preaches. The theory is put into practice in this recital.

Please read the complte review at Musicweb International

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