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Classic American Love Songs
Harold ARLEN (1905-1986)
Casbah: What's Good About Goodbye? [2:41]
Last Night When We Were Young [4:30]
When the Sun Comes Out [3:31]
Casbah: It was Written in the Stars [2:44]
Bloomer Girl: Right as the Rain [2:45]
St. Louis Woman: I had Myself a True Love [3:40]
Life Begins at 8:40: Fun to be Fooled [2:42]
Kurt WEILL (1900-1950)
One Touch of Venus: Love in a Mist [2:06]
Lady in the Dark: Unforgettable [1:29]
The River is So Blue [2:56]
The Picture on the Wall [2:05]
The Romance Of A Lifetime [1:47]
Arthur SCHWARTZ (1900-1984)
Revenge with Music: You and the Night and the Music [3:49]
The Band Wagon: Dancing in the Dark [3:33]
Between the Devil: I See Your Face Before Me [3:38]
Three's a Crowd: Something To Remember You By 3:22]
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Poppyland [2:17]
Isn't It a Pity? [3:30]
Of Thee I Sing: Love is Sweeping the Country [2:04]
Boy! What Love has Done to Me! [2:57]
Rosalie: How Long Has This Been Going On? [3;31]
Strike Up The Band: Soon [3:36]
Carole Farley (soprano)
John Constable (piano)
rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, May 2006†
NAXOS 8.559314 [66:11]

 


ďRecommended.Ē The editor of this site doesnít allow this kind of lazybones review summary and whilst I donít always end my reviews with the sort of alliterative high wire act of linguistic genius that he might privately like, Iíve not gone down the Recommended tag. Until now. Iím going to give you my summing up here and now, and itís very simple. If you donít buy a compact disc this year, make sure itís this one. Itís ďNot RecommendedĒ in capitals ten feet high.

Just what were they thinking of before this one hit the processing plant? Itís difficult to get oneís bearings with performances this awful but Carole Farley, who presumably sat with headphones on listening to her singing, assented to release and therefore has to take the flack from critics who simply donít understand what sheís doing. Maybe thatís my limitation - but there it is.

I donít think going through every song giving chapter and verse is much help. It would bore you far sooner than it bored me. This is singing, to be frank, of breathtaking peculiarity. Itís breathy, wheedly, swooping, bulging, breaking, adenoidal, pitch-busting, registral-careering and stylistically all wrong. One moment chesty, the next fluttering from high notes like a winged partridge, she canít sustain note values and allows phrases to disintegrate. There are weird, hammered-out vocal emphases throughout, causing phrases to lose shape and meaning. These are contrasted with tremulously floated lines to maximum disruptive effect. Try Something To Remember You By as an example of these bizarre practices. 

Oh all right, some textual analysis to support these thoughts. Love in A Mist is so bulgy and wobbly itís hard to listen to. Registral breaks in the voice sabotage The Romance of A Lifetime. Gershwinís Poppyland is an early, dull song but thatís not Farleyís fault, except perhaps for singing it at all. Love is Sweeping the Country has some verve at least but the voice is hopelessly unequalized, the style is wrong and that wretched classical auxiliary vibrato vies with feeble snatching at high notes for comprehensively depressing this listener. Arlenís It was Written in the Stars bumps, grinds and swoops all over the place. Right as The Rain is simply an embarrassment -vocal production is so tenuous itís barely coherent. All too often Farley sounds like a boy whose voice in the throes of breaking.

Canít go on. There are three world-premiere Weill recordings (The Picture on the Wall, The Romance Of A Lifetime and The River is So Blue) but theyíre not in the safest hands. John Constable accompanies Farley with professionalism but I canít say he sounds much inside the idiom. The lyrics are printed so you can torture yourself reading them.

Jonathan Woolf

 


 


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