FAIREST ISLE: A New National Songbook.
Various works by Clarke, Handel, Purcell, Dibdin,
Catherine Bott: soprano. Joseph
Cornwell: tenor. The Parley of Instruments, Psalmody, Peter Holman.
Hyperion CDA67115 63m
Another interesting concept to add to Hyperion's burgeoning English Orpheus
series. This time the indefatigable Peter Holman and his excellent Parley
of Instruments team up with soloists and a choir for some hilariously effective
period renditions of some popular and long lost traditional favorites. We
all know 'The British Grenadiers', 'Sally in our Alley', 'Rule Brittania'
et al but some songs are true rarities. I was, for example, tickled pink
by Hook's 'The lass of Richmond Hill' and an anonymous 'Farewell to Lochaber',
both songs of beautiful melodic content. Holman and his orchestra are constantly
cajoling Bott and Cornwell who sing the items with fervour and just the right
ounce of humour not to let things get stale. Some songs do not hold a definite
authorship such as 'Twas within a furlong of Edinburgh town', attributed
both to Purcell and to Clarke. Handel's 'Melancholy Nymph' is also winning,
as is Barsanti's Overture in G major, a whacking party piece. The notes make
interesting reading as we can delve deeper into the history of these familiar
tunes which although having remained popular are still somewhat obscure as
regards their composers. Such projects are beyond critical criticism and
as such I recommend this New national Songbook wholeheartedly to young and
old alike for a true sample of British prestige at its best!