Sunday, 18 April 2010

Sixty Glorious Years: A Concert of 19th Century British Music

Arthur SULLIVAN (1842-1900) Jubilee Hymn: 'O King of Kings'; John HULLAH (1812-1884) 'Three fishers went sailing'; Alexander MACKENZIE (1847-1935) 'Dormi, Jesu' (The Virgin's Cradle Hymn); William STERNDALE BENNETT (1816-1875) No.2 of Three Romances Op. 14; Robert PEARSALL (1795-1856) 'O who will o'er the downs so free?' [Chorus]; Philip ARMES (1836-1901) Victoria [Madrigal]; John HATTON (1809-1886) 'To Anthea'; Michael BALFE (1800-1880) 'When I beheld the anchor weigh'd'; John GOSS (1800-1880) 'If we believe that Jesus died'; Brinley RICHARDS (1817-1885) Pastorale; PRINCE ALBERT (1819-1861) Grüss an den Bruder (Does my brother think of me?); George MACFARREN (1813-1887) 'Pack clouds away'; Walter CARROLL (1869-1955) The Stars; Nature; Walter MACFARREN (1826-1905) L'Amitié; Micahel BALFE (1800-1880) 'The Sands of Dee'; Maude WHITE (1855-1937) 'To Mary'; Henry BISHOP (786-1855) 'Home! Sweet Home!'; George MARTIN (1844-1916) Short Festival Te Deum;
Katy Morrell (soprano); Phillida Bannister (contralto); Campbell Russell (tenor); Fiona Murphy (cello); Wilfred Goddard (clarinet); Ian Wass (organ); John Talbot, (piano) The Midlands Chorale/Robert Williams BRITISH MUSIC SOCIETY BMS422CD [75.14]

I recently reviewed this fascinating CD for MusicWeb International. I began by noting that "although there has been huge development in the number of recordings of works from the British Musical Renaissance, this anthology mostly involves pieces post-dating the first performance of the Enigma Variations. Honourable exceptions to this include symphonic or concerted works by George Macfarren, William Sterndale Bennett and the Irish Chopin, John Field. However, the one element that is largely missing from the catalogues – as well as recital rooms – is the music that was produced when Britain was supposedly a ‘Land without Music’. The CD under consideration presents a number of works from that period. The conclusion is that virtually all of these pieces have a musical worth without necessarily being masterpieces. Mediocrity may be too harsh a description: essential listening may be too enthusiastic. It was an era that relied a little too heavily on Mendelssohn: it tended to inhibit the emergence of a truly native talent. Yet, the other side of the coin is that good workmanship and healthy imagination can be just as enjoyable as innovation."

I outlined the content of the CD which “covers a number of genres that were popular in the nineteenth century, more particularly at the time of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. That said, many of these pieces predate 1897. The recital includes hymns, motets, ballads, parlour songs and salon piano works.”
After a brief glance at each work I concluded that:- All enthusiasts of British music will demand to have this in their collection – assuming that they did not invest in it the first time round. It is, as I have mentioned above, a mixed bag. But any recital of music from any period or country would tend to have highs and lows. There is no suggestion that this is ‘The Best of …’ or an ‘Introduction to …’ the music of the Victorian period. It is a recital for entertainment and enjoyment rather than academic study."

Please read the full review at MusicWeb International & also read the review on the same page by Nick Barnard

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