Howard Goodall has found a champion in Metronome who host several
of his TV Programme spin-off CDs.
Goodall began collecting these songs while touring
the world for two of his Channel 4 (UK) TV series: 'Howard Goodall's
Organ Works' and 'Howard Goodall's Choirworks'.
Goodall's arrangements employ apt though not hackneyed
instrumentals which always help place the folksong. Among the
players is John Harle - a prince among saxophonists.
Polegnala is rounded and ruffled by
slow surges of sound. Over it all floats the dulcimer's instrumental.
The dulcimer is an instrument characteristic of Thrace. Nanita
Nana is charmingly done although I have difficulty with the
breathiness of the treble.
The Three African Songs are percussive
and rhythmic. Perceptively Waly Waly only appears after
a long shivery preamble and Blow the Wind Southerly has
a 'foreword' in which Jacqui Cryer reads the shipping forecast. There
is an incantatory music in speaking aloud the names of the sea areas
around the British Isles. The skein of sound is synthesised - all cocooned
sweetness and long-held notes with a touch of celtic 'flutery'. In Waly
Waly the singers swallow their words at this speed - far too quick
Then we sally northwards to Iceland and the catchy
Bium Bium Bamba which ensnares arctic sea sounds: seagull
cries and a jack tar (or Icelandic equivalent) accordion.
Henry Bennett manages Röslein Röslein,
that exemplar of intimate German romanticism, extremely well.
The words are by Heine and the tune by Heinrich Werner. After two drowsy
lullabies tracked as one comes Tutu maramba - quick, athletic
Rosla kalina is one of the highlights
of the disc. It is full of yearning desire for homeland and is lovingly
arranged. Bennett is a star here though still unable to shake off the
tremor in his voice.
Goodall is the composer of the music for that runaway
success, The Snowman. The setting of the Japanese folksong deploys
dulcimer and tiny bells to the same moving effect. Very atmospheric.
The Lark in the clear air comes across
as rather heartless andthe clouded enunciation does not help much either.
She moved through the fair receives a sensitive and imaginative
treatment with recordings of birdsong and, once again, a treble solo.
Irish Gaelic is whispered at us all to add to the frissson. Try track
14 2.08 onwards. The River Dance generation will love this.
This disc can be enjoyed by children and adults. It
would have been nicer yet if the words had been provided in the booklet.