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English Music (1842-1900): England, My England
The Spirit Of England and Pastoral England

Kenneth ALFORD (1881-1945)
Colonel Bogey, from A Bridge on the River Kwai (1914)
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)

Pizzicato Polka, from Simple Symphony (1946)
George BUTTERWORTH (1885-1916)

The Banks of Green Willow (1913)
Eric COATES (1886-1957)

Dam Busters March (1954)
Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)

La Calinda (1904)
On hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring (1912)
Edward ELGAR (1865-1935)

Chanson de Matin (1901)
Cockaigne (1901)
Pomp and Circumstance March No.1 (1901)
Pomp and Circumstance March No.4 (1907)
Symphony No.1 (Opening theme) (1908)
Land of Hope and Glory (1914)
Nimrod, Enigma Variations (1899)
Cello Concerto (1st movement) (1919)
John GOSS (1800-1880)

Praise my Soul the King of Heaven

Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961)

Country Gardens (1918)
Shepherd's Hey (1918)
Gustav HOLST (1874-1934)

Jupiter, The Planets Suite (1916)

C.H.H. PARRY (1848-1918)

Jerusalem (1916)

William WALTON (1902-1983)

Orb and Sceptre (1953)
The Battle of Agincourt from Henry V (1944)
Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930)

Capriol Suite (1926)
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)

English Folk Song Suite: 6 movements (1913)
The Lark Ascending (1914)
Fantasia on Greensleeves (1934)
White Cliffs of Dover

Sung by Vera Lynn and introduced by Sir Winston Churchill
Various orchestras/Boult/Britten/Marriner/Solti
Mid-price
DECCA 443 936-2 [2CDs: 152.24]

This mixed bag couples popular English titles yet they do not always match the genre of the discs– The Spirit of England and Pastoral England. Where is Binge? There is little evidence amongst the tracks of those truly idyllic pieces like Coates' Glamis or In the Country, German's Merrie England/Nell Gwyn Dances or Sullivan's Henry VIII Dances/Haddon Hall Dances, principally because none of them have been recorded on the Decca label. Yet Decca missed out in using their good recording of the delightfully rustic Victoria and Merrie England Suite (Sullivan) that would have suitably fitted the genre. Delius's absolutely charming La Calinda is thankfully included in an excellent performance by Marriner.

If the intention is to provide an easy listening set to engage those who like light pieces but are not knowledgeable about sources I don't think this compilation is particularly ideal. The selection seems to lose its aim. There is too much Elgar, and Vaughan Williams. Vaughan Williams’ English Folk Song Suite could have been sufficiently represented by its First and Third movements and dropping the meandering Intermezzo. Sixteen minutes of The Lark Ascending is much too long and its opening theme would have better served the needs even though a fade-out would be necessary. (Elgar's Symphony No.1 was sensibly trimmed to three minutes of its opening theme so why not do this elsewhere?) Again, nice as the Capriol Suite is I do not understand why all movements of have been included. Decca's 'Pastoral England' could have been ideally represented by including just Pavane, Pieds-en-L'air and Mattachins and not all five movements. Even so perhaps the only one I was disappointed in was the Britten Pizzicato, which I have always visually thought of as a crude attempt at the opening of Iolanthe, but with rather clumsy fairies! Surely better would have been one of his delightful Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes.

A welcome track is Vera Lynn's The White Cliffs of Dover, which I think has been absent from the current catalogue. The tracks are all well played and do not suffer from mis-matching acoustics. They come from the Decca library, the earliest I guess being the Britten, and the latest the Marriner. All are first class recordings.

Six pages of notes are too few for 34 tracks and miss out on information about the composers and dates. Mention is made of the films from which the music is associated and one is sometimes led, often incorrectly, to believe that the date of the film is in fact the date of its composition. It is interesting to note that the majority of these romantic pieces were written between 1900 and 1918.

Raymond J Walker



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