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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

 

 

 

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Michael TIPPETT (1905-1998)
A Child of Our Time (1938) [64.34]
Dance Clarion Air (1952) [4.53]
The Source (1942) [2.22]
The Windhover (1942) [2.16]
Lullaby (1943) [4.04]
Bonny at Morn (1960) [2.51]
Four Songs from the British Isles (1956) [12.49]
Magnificat and nunc dimittis (1961) [7.32]
Plebs Angelica (1943) [3.19]
The Weeping Babe (1944) [4.27]
Music (1960) [3.45]
Five Negro Spirituals (1958) [11.06]
Jessye Norman (sop)
Janet Baker (alto)
Richard Cassilly (ten)
John Shirley-Quirk (bass)
BBC Singers
BBC Choral Society
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis
Schola Cantorum Oxford/Nicholas Cleobury
rec. Mar 1975 (Child); Apr 1977 (choral). ADD
The British Music Collection
DECCA 473 421-2 [64.34+60.15]

A Child of our Time works through its emotionalism and through the masterfully interpolated spirituals juxtaposed with neo-Handelian monumentalism. Colin Davis seems to have been strongly favoured by the composer but here the work develops a lumbering gait that is at odds with the message. Gravitas by all means but this is a case of severity lurching towards the ungainly. The sound-image is rather congested too. This is not classic Philips sound. The engineers do however make the most of Tippett's writing for women's voices and the singing of the BBC Choral Society and BBC Singers has a massy weight and a glow as if from behind hammerhead storm clouds. Jessye Norman, perhaps at the peak of her powers when this was made, is simply superb. People speak highly of Tippett's Collins CD (I have not heard it) but I hope that the early Decca recording made by John Pritchard will find its way onto CD. Now which of you remembers the calamitously obtuse LP sleeve design for Davis's version when first issued in 1975?

At the other end of the spectrum comes an hours worth of smaller a cappella choral items. The second CD uses a smaller number of voices achieving delicacy and transparency. It points up the density of sound of the first disc. Not a great deal to be said really except that this is all Tippett at his most melodically beguiling. The highlights include the Four Songs from the British Isles with apt instrumental insurgents and the Negro Spirituals lifted from their monumental stone and iron setting and grouped together to uplifting effect.

The booklet is a very decent production in which the full text of A Child of Our Time is reproduced but there is no sign of the words of the short choral items.

Rob Barnett



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