The first point to make about this very desirable release
is that the Edwardian gentleman of the title must have had old-fashioned
tastes. Apart perhaps from the five Stanford songs and maybe Frederick
Bridge’s two parody partsongs, the repertoire here is more Victorian
(or indeed earlier) than Edwardian. Particularly is this so of the "glees"
by Hatton, Smart, Paxton, Pearsall and Cooke, sung with delicious balance
and accomplishment by the nine voice Pro Cantione Antiqua. They include
such names as Ian Partridge, Timothy Penrose, Charles Brett and Christopher
James Griffett, who also belongs to PCA, sings the
rest of the tracks. We know him to be a fine interpreter of Stanford
on record and these five examples, all new to me, are sung intelligently
and with beguiling smoothness and lyricism. Many of his other contributions
are songs which were popular in Victorian times and these go well, too.
Cowen’s The Children’s Garden sounds rather
like his once-hackneyed The Better Land and is at least as good.
The two Sullivan items show Mr Griffett as a devotee of that composer;
the excerpt from The Prodigal Son makes one wish for a recording
of the complete work. All the items, bar one, perhaps two, are British.
The Stephen Foster, again one of his lesser-known songs, and the tangy
setting of Ye Banks and Braes, by Maurice Ravel, no less are
The recording is excellent and all in all this is,
I repeat, highly recommendable; the insert does not include the words
of the song (Mr Griffett’s clear diction makes this less important than
it otherwise might be) nor the name of the sympathetic piano accompanist.
Philip L Scowcroft