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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

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Once were Angels - The Tradition of Boy Trebles 1964-89
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)

Linden Lea
Andrew Wicks with John Birch (piano)
ANONYMOUS

I will give my love an apple
Paul Dutton
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Alleluia
Andrew Wicks with John Birch (organ)
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)

O for the Wings of a Dove
Michael Ginn with the Choir of the Temple Church directed by Sir George Thalban-Ball
TRADITIONAL

Lark in the Clear Air
Dara Carroll
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Der Musensohn
Andrew Wicks with John Birch (piano)
Arthur SULLIVAN (1842-1900)

Orpheus with his lute
Paul Dutton with Donald Hunt (piano)
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)

Laudamus Te
Tom Hunt and Paul Dutton with the forces of Leeds Parish Church directed by Donald Hunt
George Frederic HANDEL (1685-1759)

Happy Iphis, shalt thou live
Jeremy Bowyer with Harry Bramma (organ)
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)

Shepherd’s Song
Dara Carroll with Donald Hunt (piano)
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)

Pie Jesu from the Requiem
Dara Carroll with David Lumsden (organ)
TRADITIONAL

Skye Boating Song
Dara Carroll
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)

Let us wander not unseen
Andrew Brough and Christopher Smith with Edward Higginbottom (organ)
Roger QUILTER (1877-1953)

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun
Paul Dutton with Donald Hunt (piano)
Mary PLUMSTEAD

A grateful heart
Daniel Ludford-Thomas with Andrew Shenton (organ)
Charles STANFORD (1852-1924)

A Song of Wisdom
Daniel Ludford-Thomas with Andrew Shenton (organ)
Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585-1672)

Be not afraid
Michael Criswell with David Lumsden (organ)
TRADITIONAL

Harke, harke the Lark
Michael Criswell with soloists and David Lumsden (organ)
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Agnus Dei
James Davis with Donald Hunt (organ)
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)

En Priere
Peter Davey with Kenneth Sweetman (organ)
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)

Evening Hymn
Peter Davey with Alan Thurlow (organ)
Orlando GIBBONS (1583-1625)

Drop, drop slow tears
Robin Blaze with Stephen Lomas
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)

I got me flowers
Robin Blaze
George Frederic HANDEL (1685-1759)

I know my Redeemer Liveth
Paul Dutton with string soloist and Donald Hunt (organ)
Transferred from Alpha and Abbey LPs
GRIFFIN GCCD 4040 [78.36]


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The presiding spirit behind this disc is Harry Mudd, who has done so much to further the newer traditions in treble singing and who has witnessed the changes not only in nomenclature ("boy soprano") but in matters of style and voice production. These he has faithfully recorded, and record companies such as Alpha and Abbey have eloquently presented them on LP over many years. This CD is, in effect, both a tribute to Mudd and a quasi-manifesto of tradition and of performance practice. Derived from those LPs it presents leading boy trebles of the past quarter century or so and gives us the opportunity to analyse and distinguish between those voices – also, not least, simply to enjoy listening to them.

There are some familiar names here – and some less familiar. It’s a feature of the disc that potted biographies describe the early life and training of each of the trebles – and then gives us a sentence or two as to their subsequent life and careers. Many have stayed in music – teaching, leading choirs whilst others have pursued different lives (doctors, working for the UN and the like). There won’t be too many surprises over the repertoire. Andrew Wicks starts with a charmingly delicate and innocent Linden Lea and Paul Dutton gives us a scrupulous and beautiful unaccompanied I will give my love an apple. Wicks has to cope with the Mozart Alleluia, which has a succession of exceptionally taxing divisionshe remains splendidly in tune even at the top of his register. I suppose O for the Wings of a Dove had to appear – but here it’s sung by Michael Ginn with none other than the Choir of the Temple Church directed by Sir George Thalben-Ball in his last recording and if it doesn’t summon up the seraphic ghost of Master you-know-who it’s still a precious souvenir. Dara Carroll was then probably less well known than, say, Dutton and Wicks were but he sings a most attractive, unaccompanied Lark in the Clear Air and Skye Boat Song – clarity and excellent rhythm. I was less happy with the Pie Jesu from Fauré’s Requiem (though not with his voice I should add) – where David Lumsden seems to want to test Carroll’s legato and breath control with a stodgy tempo in the pious manner. That Carroll sings so well is no thanks to his organist.

I like the lightness of Wicks’ Der Musensohn, and we get a nice little band to support the flighty duo of Thomas Hunt and Paul Dutton in Vivaldi’s Laudamus te. The slightly darker treble of Jeremy Bowyer can be heard in Happy Iphis, shalt thou live with its bell like clarity and confidence (though rather back in the balance in Southwark Cathedral, which is a bit of a pity). In fact, as the notes admit, some of these recordings were made in less than optimum conditions but I have to say it rarely bothered me. As with the preceding it’s a shame that Dutton is rather overpowered by Donald Hunt’s piano in Elgar’s Shepherd’s Song but the conception is good. Daniel Ludford-Thomas makes a good showing in Mary Plumstead’s popular anthem A grateful heart – organist Andrew Shenton breathes with his soloist with registral and tempo sensitivity at all times. Both rise to declamatory strength in Stanford’s A song of wisdom. Michael Criswell is a GP now and I hope he treats his patients with as much sensitivity as he shows towards Schütz’s Be not afraid – purity and grace. Mozart’s Agnus Dei receives a most convincing and tender performance from James Davis and Donald Hunt and Peter Davey cope well with Purcell’s magisterial Evening Hymn – with its attendant difficulties of breath taking, complex divisions and emotional depth. Robin Blaze is a name not unfamiliar now – as one of this country’s leading young counter-tenors he has proved himself to be a musician of acute intelligence and beauty of tone. He was taking great care over articulation even as a boy – Drop, drop slow tears - and commands the charm and sweep for Vaughan Williams’ I got me flowers. Finally and not inappropriately, then, we finish with Paul Dutton, ex-Leeds Parish Church, and one of the leading trebles of his generation along with Andrew Wicks. He essays I know my Redeemer Liveth with great skill, adding some little ornaments along the way (not all of which work but that’s a minor point). He’s accompanied by organ and an unfortunate solo string player but all ears are on Dutton.

As an archive of the trebles of that time this is a charmingly successful disc. Musically quite a bit of ground is covered, and the booklet includes, as well as those biographical notes, pictures of the youthful singers. Oh the haircuts, the haircuts!

Jonathan Woolf

 



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