Aureole etc.

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett



Dorchester County Museum
Dorset DT1 1XA
01305 262735
Price 7.95 plus postage and packing
or direct from the singer

In the Spring - A Collection of Dorset Songs
John IRELAND Great Things (Hardy)
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Linden Lea (Barnes)
Graham PEEL

Bright is the ring of words (R.L. Stevenson)
Requiem (R.L. Stevenson)
Summertime on Bredon (Housman)
The Oxen (Hardy)

In the Spring (Barnes)

The Geate A-Vallen To (Barnes)
Bells of Alderburnham (Barnes)
Gustav HOLST
The Sergeant's Song (Hardy)
William Adams (bass-baritone)
Richard Hall (piano)
NO NUMBER [24.32]

It is a healthy strand in the diverse CD market that artists can more easily produce their own discs. Marketing may not be so straightforward with distributors and retailers glutted with product from majors and not-so-majors. This is where a site such as CMOTW can come into its own and of course email and internet can help spread the word.

This disc of the singing of William Adams was not intended for full commercial traffic. Rather it was to be sold at his recitals and to friends and through Dorset outlets. The ten songs leave you wishing that Adams had managed to find other rare Dorset treasures but perhaps it is as well to be left wanting more ...

Adams has dug deep into the broad Dorset lode and has come up with Hardy settings as well as lesser known or completely unknown songs by Coaker and Arkwright. The latter had two William Barnes settings published in 1906. Coaker, who set many Barnes poems, was blind. Paul Edmunds' Barnes song, The Bells of Alderburnham, was written in the 1920s.

In John Ireland's ringing and sprightly Great Things Adams voice leaps forward confidently with strength and he imaginatively colours and characterises candlelit dances on Dorset greens. Sustained higher notes betray some strain but otherwise this singer, brought up in the villages around Dorchester and Weymouth, is admirably sturdy. He is, I think, too quick over Linden Lea which would have benefited from more sensitivity. I have found many of the Peel settings rather unimaginative but Bright is the ring of words was new to me and Adams makes a good advocate for the hymnal shape of the melody. Peel's Requiem is oaken but rather plodding.His setting of In Summertime on Bredon is memorable and has some fine moments but time and again Peel misses opportunities for subtle word painting. Peel's The Oxen is rather dirge-like. Arkwright's In the spring has a Mozartian piano accompaniment and otherwise does not stir the waters. On the other hand The Bells of Alderburnham is a fine song. This is a real find with plenty of opportunities taken for imaginative treatment and psychological colouring. More Edmunds please. The Sergeant's Song is better known in the Finzi setting rather than this Holst effort. It is rather stolid by comparison with the Finzi but Adams has fun with some gaunt humour on the words '... and maids won't wed for modesty' building in a chuckle that works well. Barnes's poems are often larded with Dorset dialect words. The Geate a-Vallen To (misspelt on the CD itself) is dense with such words so a set of definitions would have helped. Coaker produces a good tune - a bit like Shenandoah.

The words and background are printed on the insert albeit white on silvery grey. The issue of legibility aside the inset is most beautifully and aptly designed.

Adams's thickly oaken voice is startlingly closely recorded; as is the piano. I am not sure that his voice is always athletic enough for every one of these songs although it usually works very well indeed. I have no argument with the use of colouration in his voice. This is done with intelligence to underpin psychology and meaning.

You may be interested to know that Jim Pattison's Dunelm company has recorded the baritone Stephen Foulkes in 'Songs of Dorset' - a full CD of songs by Finzi, RVW, Holst, Clive Carey and Somervell (DRD0186). Once again Barnes and Hardy are among the poets set. That disc neatly complements the present one.

Adams has a take it or leave it voice and if you accept it then you will assuredly find much to enjoy here.

Rob Barnett

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