Nicholas MARSHALL (1942- )
Songs & Instrumental music
James Bowman (Counter tenor):
Alison Wells (Soprano): Jon Turner (Recorder):
Helen Sanderson and Neil Smith (Guitars): Keith Swallow (Piano).
Forsyth CD FS003
available From Forsyth Brothers Limited, 126 Deansgate, Manchester
M3 2GR UK +44(0)161 834 3281 +44(0)161 834 0630 e-mail:
Following on from the enjoyable 'John &
Peter's Whistling Book' (Forsyth) and
'English Recorder Music' (Olympia), here
is a kaleidoscope of delight, introduced -as if by a party of 'waits'
- by the jaunty summons of the title music
'Here we come a-piping'. If the subject of this intriguing collection
is the vocal and instrumental music of the west country composer Nicholas
Marshall (1942-) the moving force behind this recording (with its host of
enthusiastic subscribers) is surely the indefatigable recorder virtuoso John
Turner, whose piping - both in solo items
such as the virtuosic 'Spring morning with birds' and as cheerful
obbligato in the delectably singable versions of nursery and folk melodies
- is infectious. All is not frivolity by
any means- the five Winter songs, depicting
the many faceted aspects of Winter, beautifully sung by Alison Wells with
Keith Swallow, are followed by six Love songs -
James Bowman and the guitarist Helen Sanderson
-whose strangely mediaeval sound colours
even the setting of James Joyce. In the first of these sets (written in 1969)
the impressions of winter, ranging from Shakespeare's 'icicles' to Drinkwater's
'coloured retinue of Spring', have the unity of theme of a song cycle. The
second, Six songs of Love, also has a common theme, though in poets as disparate
as Ford and Charles Causley - the latter's
'Hawthorn White' with its sinister Stanley Spencer-like overtones and the
timbre of the counter tenor, is as menacing as the Lyke Wake Dirge, sending
shivers down the spine.
In between these more serious items four aphoristic Haiku for solo recorder
- delineating the momentary impressions
of the three-line verses - and three Japanese
Fragments, also Haiku-like played by the second guitarist Neil Smith, add
to the variety. A set of 17th century tunes from Playford, with recorder
and guitar, reinforce the mediaeval atmosphere.
The gems of the collection however are, for me, the deliciously harmonised
children's songs of 'Carousel' sung by Alison Wells, and the final, equally
well known six Folk Song settings - sung
by James Bowman with John Turner's cheerful and infectious embroidery and
moments of piquant polytonality - all inviting
one to 'sing-along'.
For each of the participants in this excellently balanced recording the disc
is something of a showcase - and the composer
Nicholas Marshall is well served.