Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


REVIEW

Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Tudor 7188


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 

alternatively
CD: Crotchet AmazonUK AmazonUS

 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
Folksong Arrangements: 1. The Salley Gardens; 2. Little Sir William; 3. The Bonny Earl o 'Moray; 4. The Trees They Grow So High; 5. The Ash Grove; 6. Oliver Cromwell; 7. The Plough Boy; 8. Sweet Polly Oliver; 9. The Miller of Dee; 10. The Foggy, Foggy Dew; 11. O Waly, Waly; 12. Come You Not From Newcastle; 13. The Brisk Young Widow; 14. Sally in Our Alley; 15. Early One Morning; 16. Ca' the Yowes; 17. Tom Bowling; 18. Greensleeves; 19. Avenging and Bright; 20. How Sweet the Answer; 21. The Minstrel Boy; 22. Dear Harp of My Country; 23. Oft in the Stilly Night; 24. The Last Rose of Summer
Steve Davislim (tenor); Simone Young (piano)
rec. Friedrich-Ebert-Halle Hamburg, 19-22 August 2006
MELBA RECORDINGS MR 301120 [65:49] 

 

Experience Classicsonline


I first heard The Salley Gardens some 37 years ago. It was in the music department of my old school, Coatbridge High. One of the sixth-formers was preparing for a recital, and Britten's arrangement was part of this. At that time, I was 'into' Richard Strauss's Four Last Songs and Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder, so Britten's arrangement came as a surprise. It was simple, straight-to-the-point and quite simply beautiful. Even at sixteen years old I thought it was one of the loveliest things I had ever heard.

My father had a recording of Kathleen Ferrier singing, amongst other things, O Waly, Waly in his LP collection and I remember liking that song best - along with Herbert Hughes's 'I know where I am going'.

At round about the same time I found an old Decca 7' record containing some six songs, in the notorious Glasgow Barras! These were the definitive recordings by Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten at the piano. I seem to remember that it included Sweet Polly Oliver, O Waly, Waly and The Plough Boy. It was a wee while later that I discovered that there were literally dozens of these folksong arrangements by Britten. However, it was many years before I heard the complete run. My impression was, and remains, that the entire collection is a masterpiece - both from the point of view of Britten's catalogue and from the world of classical vocal music in general.

The definitive edition of these folksong arrangements was the now deleted Collins three-CD collection. Fortunately, a large proportion of this has been re-released by Naxos. This was a major enterprise that collected everything from the composer's catalogue including a number of unpublished songs. It is a superb recording showcasing Thomas Allen, Felicity Lott and Ian Bostridge. It will never be superseded.

Hyperion have also issued a two-disc set entitled Britten: The Folksong Arrangements, with sopranos Lorna Anderson and Regina Nathan, tenor Jamie MacDougall and pianist Malcolm Martineau. I have never taken to this set in quite the same way as the Collins/Naxos release.

But perhaps most important is the fundamental recording by the composer and Peter Pears on Decca London. Love him or loathe him, Pears is the touchstone for all subsequent recordings.

Turning to the present CD, my bottom line is that it is superb. It is does not supersede any past recordings, but it is well and truly in the trajectory of Pears, Ferrier, Langridge, Thomas Allen et al. Steve Davislim, a fine Australian tenor, is able to generate a wide variety of moods as he tackles each of these songs. His vocalism is perfectly capable of showing joy, sadness, happiness, fear, tragedy and wit as he progresses from song to song and verse to verse. And the pianist must not be forgotten. The accompaniments are integral to these songs and a performance cannot be satisfying without a fine pianist. Some of the songs have an 'easy' accompaniment and some are 'difficult' but all of them require a good technique and a strong sympathy to effect the near-perfect fusion between words, vocal line and piano. Sometimes it can be interesting to listen to the piano rather than the soloist! There are many surprises, delight and felicities in these pages.

For me three highlights are O Waly, Waly, Tom Bowling and Greensleeves. O Waly Waly was collected by Cecil Sharp in Somerset and is really an ironic little love song with a twist in the tail. Tom Bowling is perhaps best known for its place in Sir Henry Wood's Fantasia on Sea Songs and finally Greensleeves is one of the archetypical tunes of England. Believed to have been written by King Henry VIII, it has appeared in many guises down the ages. I felt that Davislim and Young gave these three songs the very best sort of interpretation. They certainly hold their own against the competition. Listen to this example of their art with this excellent performance of The Foggy, Foggy Dew on YouTube.

It is not necessary to give a complete description of these songs and their development. However, it is essential to understand that Britten began to compose them whilst he was still in 'exile' in the United States. This was during the early nineteen-forties. To some extent they represent the composer looking back across the Atlantic at the country he loved, had left, felt was doomed to be conquered by the Germans and finally, to which he returned in 1942. There were eventually to be Six Volumes of folksong arrangements - three dedicated to British Songs, one to Moore's Irish Melodies, one to specifically English tunes and one to French songs. In addition there are some thirteen uncollected folksongs - some published, others unpublished. Some fourteen were arranged for soloist and orchestra. Finally, there is a set of Eight Folksong Arrangements for High Voice and Harp. All these songs are available in the fine Boosey & Hawkes Collected Edition. The vast bulk of these arrangements were made between 1942 and 1958. However the Eight Folksongs were not published until 1976.

I often wonder how to approach a disc like this. It is not fair to the performers or the composer to listen carefully to the first six songs and then gradually switch off during the last eighteen! The 'complete' edition gives an obvious solution to this dilemma - a 'book' can be listened to at a sitting.
The present selection is largely chronological, so it is possible to divide this CD into manageable chunks. Songs 1-6 are from Volume 1, songs 7-12 from Volume 2, songs 13-16 from Volume 3 and songs 19-24 from Volume 4. Two additional arrangements appear - Tom Bowling from the 'Oddities' and Greensleeves which is not part of the official published volumes.

This is a great CD. I am only sorry that it comprises only extracts from the 'collected' works, and is not a complete edition. Yet I guess that is largely impossible for a single soloist. Positively, this is a fine introduction to some of the loveliest and most attractive songs in the vocal repertoire. They are, by and large, beautifully performed by both the singer and the accompanist. And most importantly of all I feel that Steve Davislim thoroughly enjoys singing these songs.

John France 
 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.