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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


 

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Aled JONES ‘Aled’
Éric LEVI ‘I Believe’

Robert PRIZEMAN ‘Vespera’
John RUTTER (b 1945) ‘Pie Jesu’
George Frederick HANDEL (1685-1759) arr. Arthur Somervell ‘Did You Not Hear My Lady’
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) ‘Ave Maria’
N REGENCY and G SHAYNE ‘Did You Hear What I Hear’
César FRANCK (1822-1890) ‘Panis Angelicus’
Geoffrey BURGON (b 1941) ‘Nunc Dimittis’
C.H. PURDY ‘Lead Kindly Light’
Adolphe ADAM (1803-1856) ‘O Holy Night’
TRADITIONAL ‘My Life Flows On’; ‘Suo-Gân’; ‘How Great Thou Art’; ‘All Through The Night’ (Ar Hyd Y Nos)
Accompanied by Catrin Finch (Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales). Libera, Llanelli Male Choir. English Session Orchestra. Director Robert Prizeman
No recording dates or venues given
ABC CLASSICS 064-479-2 [52.04]

Aled Jones was brought up in Llandegfan on Ynys Mon. This is better known in the English-speaking world as Anglesey, an island off the coast of North Wales and connected to the mainland by two famous bridges. I deliberately use the Welsh names because the language and culture of Wales have been fundamental to Aled’s career and contributed significantly to his original fame as a boy treble (soprano). He began singing at the age of six in local concerts and ‘Eisteddfodau’ (Welsh music competitions). At the National Youth Eisteddfod of 1982 he won both the solo and ‘Cerd Dant’ for under twelves. Such competitions and festivals involved singing in Welsh, Aled’s first language. This Celtic language is not a brogue, but distinct in its mode of production with many sounds being made behind, and lower than, the soft palette or pharynx. The spoken language, particularly in North Wales, has a musical lilt albeit with a metallic edge. Aled’s strong voiced boy soprano achieved local fame. BBC Wales Television featured a programme about him when he was aged fourteen. His fame quickly took hold, and allied to a late puberty, his voice not breaking until he was sixteen, one Platinum album followed another.

With the passing of puberty Aled the boy soprano disappeared. However the young man emerged as a TV presenter on the Welsh language TV channel. It would appear also that he presented ‘Songs of Praise’ on ABC Television (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and it is their associated record company that has provided Aled with the opportunity of this album.

I provide the foregoing, none of which is contained in the enclosed booklet, because it provides the background for my comments on the disc. If Aled had been resident in an English Cathedral Choir School he would have learned about supporting the voice and control of breath from the diaphragm. This is so important in both legato and when rising up the vocal register. His tenorish voice, in purist terms, is ill supported, his phrasing lacking and his higher notes squeezed. But is this the basis that potential purchasers of the disc will consider before laying out their money? I suspect not. They will be happy with the easy listening mode of a variety of well-known vocal standards interspersed with traditional items including ones in Welsh. Aled’s voice is soft and often the middle is a near croon, but the overall effect is tuneful and easy on the undemanding ear. The recording is clear with Aled’s voice given added bloom. There is even a track, ‘O Holy Night’, Tr.14, of the man singing with himself, the boy soprano of 1984. The choir is virile in their support and the harpist’s contributions wholly delectable.

The accompanying booklet has the words of the various items and a variety of photographs of Aled, in a rather dowdy outfit, against a backdrop of what looks like the more derelict parts of Ynys Mon. Definitely one for those with long memories who were seduced by a boy soprano from Wales.

Robert J Farr



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