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Songs Vol. 2.
Stephen Varcoe: baritone, Clifford Benson: piano.
Hyperion CDA67124 77m DDD.

Tragodie op.14 No.5. The Clown's Songs from 'Twelth Night op.65 - O mistress mine / Come away Death / The rain it raineth every day. The Pibroch op.157 No.1. Phoebe op.125 No.3. Songs Songs of the Sea op.91 - Drake's Drum / Outward Bound / Devon O Devon in wind and rain / Homeward Bound / The 'Old Superb'. For ever mine. Windy Nights op.30 No.4. A Lullaby op.19 No.2. To the Rose op.19 No.3. Songs of faith Set 2- To the Soul op.97 No.4 / Joy shipmate joy! Op.97 No.6. The Fairy Lough op.77 No.2. Tom Lemmin. A Fire of Turf op.139 - A Fire of Turf / The Chapel on the Hill / Cowslip Time / Scared / Blackberry Time / The Fair / The west Wind.        
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I had already waxed lyrical on Hyperion's magnificent first volume of Stanford's songs but this second volume proved to be an even more enticing and memorable listen. First of all, the sheer number of songs involved is quite riveting with miniatures such as the forty eight second 'Windy Nights' mixing with the solemn notions of 'Tragedie', a beautiful opener if there ever was one. The famous 'Songs of the Fleet' are also included and here one can appreciate Stanford's penchant for writing good old patriotic music that has unfortunately vanished completely from the repertoire. Walt Whitman settings of the two 'Songs of faith' are also amongst the finest lyrical pieces that the composer ever wrote as is the pensive 'The Fairy Lough' and the hilarious Twelfth Night settings where Shakespearian grandeur and humour matches the composer's deeply felt musical thoughts. Varcoe and Benson have already proved themselves as master interpreters of this composer's songs and they are quite in inspired form throughout, indeed this volume should confirm that Hyperion's stature in the world of English song remains quite unchallenged. Exhaustive notes and texts are in keeping with this splendid label's quality of presentation. 'The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan' next?!

Gerald Fenech




Gerald Fenech



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