Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


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More songs my father taught me

Water o’Tyne
She moved thro’ the fair

Eric COATES (1886-1957)

I heard you singing (1923)
The Green Hills o’ Somerset (1916)
Star of God

Alan MURRAY (1890-1952)

Will you go with me (1941)
Mary SHELDON (1889- )

A Cradle Song

Lord Henry SOMERSET (1849-1932)

A song of Sleep (1903)

William Henry SQUIRE (1871-1963)

Mountain Lovers (1908)
Frederic CLAY (1838-1889)

I’ll sing thee songs of Araby (1877)
Chauncey OLCOTT (1858 – 1932) and Ernest BALL (1878-1927)

Mother Machree (1910)
Haydn WOOD (1882 – 1959)

Roses of Picardy (1916)
Zo ELLIOTT (1891-1964)

There’s a long, long trail a-winding (1913)
Odoardo BARRI (c1840-1920)

The Old Brigade

William WALLACE (1812-1865)

Yes! Let me like a soldier fall (1845)
Guy D’HARDELOT (1858-1936)

Because (1902)
James MOLLOY (1837-1909)

Love’s old sweet song (1884)
Wilfred SANDERSON (1878-1935)

Friend o’mine (1913)
Time to go (1927)
John L HATTON (1808-1886)

Simon the Cellarer

Thomas C STERNDALE BENNETT (1882-1944)

The Songs of Today (1911)
Carrie JACOBS-BOND (1862-1946)

Just a-wearyin’ for you (1901)
A Perfect Day (1910)

Down by the Sally Gardens arr. Herbert HUGHES (1882-1937) (1909)
The Star of the County Down arr. Herbert HUGHES (1882-1937)
Arthur SULLIVAN (1842-1900)

Orpheus with his Lute (1866)
Amy WOODFORDE-FINDEN (1860-1919)

Four Indian Love Lyrics No. 3 Kashmiri Song (1902)
Annie FORTESCUE HARRISON (c1846-1925)
In the Gloaming (1877)
Sir Thomas Allen (baritone)
Malcolm Martineau (piano)
Recorded Champs Hill, West Sussex, January 2002
HYPERION CDA 67374 [79.01]

They used to say – perhaps they still do – that the sign of a misspent youth was the deathly pallor induced by hours of badly lit hours in the snooker hall. But there’s another kind of furtive pleasure, the kind one enjoys with a mixture of shame and quiet pride, and it’s a pleasure licensed by history. It’s called collecting 78s of ballad singing. Sad ballads, bad salads, I’ve heard all the jokes and maybe one or two more. When collectors nestle deep into their wallets and surface with chequebook and card as payment for a unique offering of some Moscow contralto on a 1903 Russian G & T, I pass by without a blush. For me it’s Hubert Eisdell and Harold Williams, Malcolm McEachern and John McCormack, Richard Crooks and Tudor Davies. And dozens more, each name a master of the ballad art, as well as many arts of course. Which makes this latest offering from Allen and Martineau, their second in this series, an enticing prospect. These songs simply aren’t sung much now and it’s a delight to hear them sung again and so sympathetically.

The composers’ and lyricists’ names vary in familiarity. Of the composers there’s Eric Coates, W.H. Squire and Haydn Wood from the great days of British string playing composers, there’s Guy d’Hardelot (née Helen Guy), ballad songsmith in excelsis and one of three women composers represented. There’s a descendant of the Sterndale Bennett, there’s an aristocrat, a couple of Herbert Hughes arrangements of Irishry and some American influence in the form, inter alia, of Carrie Jacobs-Bond whose A Perfect Day is one of the canonical transatlantic contributions to the genre. In fact the selection is wide and handsome. So, some highlights. W.H. Squire’s Mountain Lovers is splendidly done – softened articulation in the second verse, a typically strong and forthright ending as well. I think manly is the mot juste – typical of Squire at his most jaw-jutting. Odoardo Barri – crazy name, crazy guy as a satirical magazine would doubtless put it – wrote The Old Brigade to lyrics by Fred Weatherley who wrote, most famously, for Coates. It’s an Empire Stirrer all right but a sensitive one and Allen summons up spectral military ghosts with gravity and sensitivity. Allen and Martineau are splendid in a song I’ve not heard sung in years, Molloy’s Love’s Old Sweet Song and they are affecting in Wilfred Sanderson’s Friend o’ mine. They do all they can for Lord Henry Somerset’s A Song of Sleep. Its effect on me was all too literal I’m afraid though his Lordship redeems himself with a rather attractive setting of Christina Rossetti’s poem Echo.

Allen does piety as well as he does parlour. The pulpit is in one’s mind’s eye in Coates’s Star of God. Truth to tell though Coates evoked hedge and ale better than the Almighty and this is no buried masterpiece. Allen’s taste for salt spray and brine is certainly engaged by the Empire Nauticalia of Sanderson’s Time To Go: really stirring stuff. His strong commitment and darkening baritone serve up a steady arsenal of winners. Where he misses the mark it’s a question of degree and taste, also perhaps ultimately the limitations of a baritone voice in some quintessentially tenorial areas. So I’d have liked a shade more rubato in I Heard You Singing and whilst there’s a deliciously aware example of his portamento in The Green Hills o’ Somerset I’d have liked even more. He can’t match Tudor Davies’ declamatory Yes! Let me like a soldier fall. This is a song much recorded by inter-War tenors, most prominently Heddle Nash and Walter Widdop. But when Davies sang it, by God, you believed it. Sir Thomas is altogether a more pacific chap, more cardigan than bloodstained tunic. D’Hardelot’s Because is also not quite there. It’s difficult to put one’s finger on it but it has something to do with effulgent generosity and simplicity. Simon the Cellarer wants more of a wink perhaps – in avoiding the vulgar or obvious gesture perhaps Sir Thomas also loses some of the infectious brio of it all. Try as he might McCormack stubbornly refused to vacate my brain in the songs most associated with him. When he sings of the fair Irish maid why does Sir Thomas sing ca-lleen not co-lleen in The Star of the County Down? McCormack didn’t. Never mind. Sullivan’s Orpheus with his Lute, one of the art-song settings here, is a fine interpretation of a most superior setting and the unaccompanied songs that begin and end the disc are especially touching and expressive.

The documentation is really typical Hyperion: extensive, elegant, and well laid out with texts and descriptive historical biographies. The sound is to me rather spread. It gives a breadth to the voice and Martineau’s highly impressive accompaniments but there’s a loss of acoustic focus. If you have the first volume you’ll need to add this. To those who have a yen to hear again Roses of Picardy and Just a–wearyin’ for you here’s your perfect opportunity.

Jonathan Woolf

See review of Volume 1



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