Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


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Full Fathom Five - Lyrics by William Shakespeare
Ralph Vaughan WILLIAMS (1872-1958)

Three Shakespeare Songs ()
Martin LUTZ (b.1974)

Two Love Songs
Frank MARTIN (1890-1974)

Songs of Ariel ()
Nils LINDBERG (b.1933)

Three Songs From O Mistress Mine
Knud JEPPESEN (1892-1974)

Four Shakespeare Songs ()
Jaakko MÄNTYJÄRVI (b.1963)

Four Shakespeare Songs ()
Sven-Eric JOHANSON (1907-1997)

Fancies - sets I and II ()
Academic Choir of Aarhus/Uffe Most
rec. Lystrup Church, Feb 2001, Mar 2002 DDD

Shakespeare is the theme and the range of response he has drawn in the twentieth century from choral composers across Europe. The settings are overwhelmingly tonal - nothing from the further reaches of the Roundhouse this time! The forty strong mixed voice choir sound well blended and are well up to the technical feats demanded. The choir is recorded in a lively stone acoustic which accentuates the ethereal and the fantastic. The part-singing remains lucid. I was introduced to the Vaughan Williams piece by the Swingle II LPs issued in 1977. There a far smaller ensemble of voices each of lustrous perfection carressed the ear in a warmed balance that was closer to pop album than standard classical. The Aarhus Choir have greater 'body' and are recorded in a more naturalistic way. More muscular the sound may be but nothing is sacrificed in terms of litheness and intonation. The Lutz recalls the still terribly underestimated vocal writing of Geoffrey Bush (A Summer Serenade is a masterpiece). It is a degree plainer than Vaughan Williams fantastic flight in which Most resists the tempotation to hurry. The Martin is taken from his opera The Tempest (1955) and revels in a rather sober though highly skilled way. The Lindberg trio of songs are a delightful discovery with O Mistress Mine (title carpe diem) flighty and rapturous as also is the full-tioned Shall I compare thee. Crabbed age and youth is wreathed in Delian sunset reflection and spiced with medieval harmony - listen to the end of track 12. Jeppesen is less florid, more angular though hardly avant-garde. In fact When Daisies Pied (tr 16) is melismatically playful. Mantyjarvi is straightforward in Come Away Death but explores, twists and extrudes in Lullaby. Jazzy caribbean restive in Double Double Toil and Trouble and then in Full fathom Five dark green wrack magic as in the rvw setting with orthodox church. The piano (played by Signe Buch So/rensen) puts in an appearance in an otherwise a capela disc in Johanson's Fancies of which there are nine. The songs are rather a cross between Godowsky, Lambert (Li Tai Po), Geoffrey Bush and even Sondheim. Wonderful lean and poetic settings written within a grand accessible style. Johnason has the knack of writing at a level that exposes the natural musicality and shapeliness of the words. Now we must look for British composers who set Danish words with such a natural light-suffused talent.

The choir havea been well treated by the engineers who have resisted the temptation to pull back on the levels at the power of the climaxes whether in scimitar, granit or silky strength.

Altogether a pleasurable experience. I was especially pleased to encounter the Johnason and the Linbdberg for the first time. The Vaughan Williams recoridngs should be heard beyond these immediate confines.

Rob Barnett

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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