Carey Blyton, arguably the greatest eclectic among
20th Century British composers, is steadily having his complete
output recorded on CD. This latest disc mainly concentrates on the early
songs. The listener has the impression of the composer delighting in
writing in the style of his various influences and at the same time
Three A M (5 songs) is based on elements from
popular song (different periods); Two Pensive Songs derive their
inspiration from Romantic British song. Toi et Moi, settings
of five French poems, are perhaps attempts to write in the manner of
Fauré. By contrast the three Moresques, the largest individual
songs here, are Spanish in feel, the last one especially, with glorious
accompaniments for flute, harp and piano. Symphony in Yellow’s
lyric is a little known Oscar Wilde poem and again the accompaniment,
for clarinet and harp, contributes much. The Poetry of Dress,
three brief songs beautifully sung by Ian Partridge, and the four piece
What Then is Love? (originally for chorus) are inspired by the
Tudor period, though updated. The Sea Dog’s Song is a pastiche
nautical ballad, Indigo Blues pastiche Gilbert & Sullivan.
The seven Prayers from the Ark is more in the
mid 20th Century style (Jane Manning gave its premiere).
The singing is of a high standard. Ian Partridge I have mentioned, but
we hear less of him (only the Pensive Songs, The Poetry of Dress
and the brief Flea and Indigo Blues) than Stephen Roberts'
virile baritone (Three A.M., Toi et Moi and Sea Dog) or
of the two sopranos Verona Chard of Sheherazade (Moresques; Symphony
in Yellow) and Beryl Korman What Then is Love? and Prayers
from the Ark), who are both admirably clear if sometimes a trifle
The accompaniments are a delight. Jennifer Partridge
is one of our finest piano accompanists of course and is wonderfully
sensitive throughout. Flute, harp, clarinet and, in the Rimsky arrangement,
alto flute, all make their distinctive contributions.
This well recorded disc, whose booklet includes the
texts of the lessor known lyrics, affords much entertainment and I am
happy to recommend it.
See also review by Gary Higginson
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