PEGGY GLANVILLE-HICKS (1912-1990)
Profiles from China (1945) [6.29]
Three Songs (1931) [1.20+3.12+2.03]
Mimic Tree - Five Housman Songs (1944) [6.44]
Harp Sonata (1952) [10.15]
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1948) [12.04]
Letter from Morocco (1952) [15.25]
Gerald English (tenor)
Roland Peelman (piano)
Tasmanian SO/Antony Walker
rec songs Dec 1993, Canberra; Sonata, 1994, Sydney; 17 Sept 1993,
TALL POPPIES TP112
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Recordings by Gerald English are as precious as sunshine in winter. I treasure
broadcast tapes of BBC Radio 3 broadcasts by him including a superb account
of Finzi's Oh Fair to See and the songs of Jasper Rooper. He is also
well recalled for his role in Walton's Troilus and Cressida. He is
not part of the great homogeneous sea of tenors churned out on a production
line. His voice has poignancy - a penetrating nasal quality, probing and
ecstatic. Glanville-Hicks is well served by it.
Glanville-Hicks was born in Melbourne and studied with Vaughan Williams,
Boulanger and Wellesz. She had sojourns in Greece and the USA. She learnt
her operatic craft (there are four operas and five ballets) working with
Fritz Hart before his departure to Hawaii. She was married for some years
to the Plymouth-born composer, Stanley Bate, whose turbulence-riven Third
Symphony (1945), premiered by Adrian Boult, is a prime candidate for revival
The Chinese Profiles are settings of aphoristic poems by Eunice Tietjens.
The style will be instantly familiar to and loved by anyone who has taken
to the 1920s Li Tai Po settings of Arthur Bliss and Constant Lambert. The
moon, rain, drunken poesy, melancholy and mossy gardens are the subject matter.
The composer matches the subjects with concision and emotion.
Of the three miscellaneous songs two are by the Irish poet AE and the third
is Fletcher's oft-set Sleep. These are recognisably of the genre of
British lyrics. They are variously racked by the rolling Celtic surge while
Sleep, in its regretful self-hypnosis, stands comfortably in the company
of Gurney's and Warlock's settings of the same words. With the five Housman
settings we move further into mainstream English song territory and these
are as gloriously melancholy and deliciously pessimistic as the Orr, Gurney,
Ireland and Vaughan Williams settings. Note the rippling arpeggio in
The Harp Sonata is a succinctly expressed delight. Serenade-like in character
it strikes me as a three movement troubadour song shot through with voices
familiar from William Alwyn's Lyra Angelica at one extreme and Haydn's
British folksong settings at the other. I was not surprised to read that
this was the most broadcast piece of Australian music in 1996.
The Wallace Stevens songs gallop lightly, glitter starrily, speak soft
profundity, slewing between Britten-like economy and Finzian tenderness.
These must be heard by anyone who reckons himself or herself a lover of British
The Letter from Morocco is the only sequence here to be accompanied
by orchestra. It was borne out of composer, Paul Bowles' letters to
Glanville-Hicks. These letters were part of a forty year correspondence.
The sequence is honeyed, exotic, romantic, desolate and deeply serious. There
is a touch of Warlock's Curlew about this. The orchestration is a glimmering
web - as rich as that conjured by Szymanowski and yet not suffocating the
A delightful disc. Good notes and technical aspects. Matchless singing. This
is a discovery I am very pleased to share and recommend.
Available in the UK from Seaford Music.
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