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RECORDING OF THE MONTH


London Pride – A Celebration of London in Song

Lionel MONCKTON Chalk Farm to Camberwell Green [3'07]
Madeleine DRING (John Betjeman) Business Girls [2'12]
Sandy WILSON A Room in Bloomsbury [3'03]
George GERSHWIN (Ira Gershwin) A foggy day in London town [4'12]
William WALTON (Anon) Rhyme [2'00]
David Owen NORRIS Big Ben Blues [3'42]
Ewan MACCOLL Sweet Thames, flow softly [3'18]
BOYCE/arr. FRANKLIN (Lockman) The Pleasures of Spring Gardens, Vauxhall [3'38]
Jonathan DOVE Five Am’rous Sighs [8'04] (Mary Montagu) Between your sheets you soundly sleep [2'50]; (Mary Montagu) Finish! Finish, these Languors make me sick [1'02]; (Matthew Prior) My heart still hovering round about you [1'20]; (Mary Montagu) All these dismal looks and fretting [1'41]; (Matthew Prior) Venus, take my votive glass [1'21])
Kit and the Widow Wimbledon Idyll [4'25]
Harold FRASER-SIMSON (A.A. Milne) They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace [2'17]
Michael CARR/Billy MAYERL (Jimmy Kennedy) Mayfair merry-go-round [3'01]
Harry DACRE While London’s fast asleep [4'56]
Richard Rodney BENNETT Let’s go and live in the country [2'30]
Manning SHERWIN (Eric Maschwitz) A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square [5'50]
Bennett SCOTT (A.J. Mills) Take me in a Taxi, Joe [3'43]
Donald SWANN (Joyce Grenfell) Joyful Noise [6'07]
Noel COWARD London Pride [5'31]
Catherine Bott (soprano) David Owen Norris (piano)
Recorded live at the Savage Club, London, 23rd and 26th May 2003. DDD
HYPERION CDA67457 [71.58]

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Catherine Bott and David Owen Norris achieve a commendable feat in bringing off with complete proficiency and virtuosity such a remarkably diverse and multifarious a compilation. "A Celebration of London in song", London Pride encapsulates various facets of the capital with a programme based around geographical locations. It is a rarity for Hyperion, recorded live from the Spitalfields Festival in 2002. It ranges from the eighteenth century, with Boyce, to the present day with Jonathan Dove's lyrical and beguiling Five Am'rous sighs; from musicals to English solo song. Bott tailors her voice brilliantly to suit a disparate assortment of works. In this context, seemingly strange juxtapositions of Georgian ballads, Noel Coward numbers, music hall classics and contemporary song-cycles actually work. With a rich and luscious tone, Bott is delicately sensitive in Gershwin, ingeniously adroit in Swann and Grenfell's Joyful noise, and scintillatingly piquant as the lady in Wimbledon Idyll, Norris providing hilariously astute repartee as the umpire. The infamous They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace is resurrected. William Walton gets a look-in with the well-known Rhyme from his song cycle A song for the Lord Mayor's table. Bott puts her own spin on two very different classics: Sweet Thames flow softly, beloved of folk music circles, and A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.

Accurately described by Catherine Bott as a polymath, Norris's role in this CD extends beyond accompanist to composer (Big Ben Blues), and musicologist. He also contributes as singer in Mayfair Merry-go-round, the accompaniment of which he has reconstructed after an improvisation by Billy Mayerl. As swift to adapt as Bott, his playing is exemplary, combining an easy manner with the inimitable discretion and vivacious sparkle that exemplifies his characteristic style. In his biographical notes, he regrets that he is not a better singer, yet here his charming, unpretentiously sexy voice epitomises the spirit of this collection.

I cannot recommend this disc highly enough. It positively radiates intelligence and wit in performances of consummate musicianship. A truly delightful gallimaufry!


Em Marshall

 


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