> Carey Blyton The Early songs [PS]: Classical CD Reviews- July2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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The Early Songs.

Three A M; Two Pensive Songs; Toi et Moi; Moresques; Symphony in Yellow; The Poetry of Dress; What Then is Love? The Sea Dog’s Song; Prayers From the Ark; The Flea; The Rose and the Nightingale (arr. from Rimsky-Korsakov); Indigo Blues.
Stephen Roberts (baritone)
Ian Partridge (tenor)
Beryl Korman (soprano)
David Campbell (clarinet)
Jennifer Partridge (piano)
Rec 2000?

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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 delighting us.

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 hard-toned.

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.

Philip Scowcroft

See also review by Gary Higginson

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