> Scarborough Fair: British Folk Songs for Tenor [RJF]: Classical CD Reviews- Sept 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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SCARBOROUGH FAIR: ‘British Folk Songs for Tenor’
1. Lovely Joan (arr. Geoffrey Burgon)
2. The Turtle Dove (arr. James Griffett)
3. Sailor Boy (arr. Benjamin Britten)
4. The Grey Cock (arr. Geoffrey Burgon)
5. Benjamin Bowmaneer (arr. Geoffrey Burgon)
6. The oak and the ash (arr. Timothy Walker)
7. Master Kilby (arr. Benjamin Britten)
8. Scarborough Fair (arr. Charles Vale)
9. Dance to your daddy (arr. Timothy Walker)
10. Farewell to Stromness (Maxwell Davies) (arr. T.Walker)
11. The cockle gatherer (arr. Charles Vale)
12. Bonny at morn (arr. Benjamin Britten)
13. The Fairy Lover (arr. Stanley Vann)
14. The Salley Gardens (arr. James Griffett)
15. The Cuckoo (arr. Dietrich Wagner)
16. She mov’d thro' the fair (arr. James Griffett)
17. The shooting of his dear (arr. Benjamin Britten)
18. Greensleeves (Traditional.)
19. The soldier and the sailor (arr. Benjamin Britten)
20. The water is wide (arr. Mark Brown)
21. I must and I will get married (arr. David Posnett)
22. Bushes and briars (arr James Griffett)
23. The chickens they are crowing (arr. David Posnett)
24. Pretty Saro, (arr. David Posnett)
25. The Ploughman (arr. James Griffett)
26. Black is the colour of my true love's hair (arr. C. Vale)
27. Strawberry Fair (arr. Mark Brown)
(No recording details given)
James Griffett, (tenor); Timothy Walker, (guitar)
REGIS RRC 1112 [68.21]

The various genre of British, and particularly English, song, have done well on CD this year. Sir Thomas Allen has featured on two issues. The first, what might be called 'parlour' songs, with the title 'Songs my father taught me' (Hyperion) was widely welcomed. So too was the reissue of a double disc (Virgin) of the singer in 'French and English Songs', the latter including the likes of Vaughan Williams' 'House of Life' cycle and 'Linden Lea', as well as works by Butterworth. The genre of both those issues is significantly different to that offered on this Regis disc which derives from an earlier Hyperion issue with some additions. The enclosed leaflet essay, by James Murray, details how many of these songs were collected by a small group of enthusiasts in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and had been used in ballad operas and such like. Apart from the Britten arrangements, mostly written during World War 2 when he was in the U.S.A., the songs on the disc have been arranged specifically for James Griffett and Timothy Walker. One song (tr 16) is of course more Irish than British.

James Griffett was a founder member of 'Pro Cantione Antiqua' a group specialising in the performance of music from the Renaissance and Baroque eras. He has a tightly focused tenor voice with a wide range of expression. His artistry is not of the quality of Tom Allen and one wouldn't want to listen to this collection end to end. Nonetheless Griffett brings to his interpretations plenty of character and exemplary diction, if not always the gentlest of phrasing or smoothness of legato. In tr 14 his mezza voce and head voice singing is commendable, whilst in 'Greensleeves' (tr 18) the phrases are choppy and he cannot sustain the legato in the passagio. However, it is easy to be over pedantic and miss the pleasures that are to be found in enjoyment of the artistry of the singer and accompanist, as well as of the music and words that many will have deep in their memory bank.

Robert J Farr

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