Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Sally Bradshaw

The Soul Of Orpheus: An album of songs inspired by ancient Greece
Hugo Wolf (1860 - 1903)
Anakreons Grab, Goethe-Lieder #29 (1888-9) [2.48]
Peter Warlock (pseud. of Philip Arnold Heseltine) (1894 - 1930)
Heraclitus (1917, pub. 1923) [3.02]
Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828)
Ganymed, D.544, Op. 19, #3 (1817) [4.18]
An die Leier, D.737, Op. 56 #1 (1823, pub. 1826) [4.07]
Iphigenia, D.573, Op 98 #3 [2.40]
Die Götter Griechenlands, D.677 [3.42]
Der Musensohn, D.764, Op 92 #1 [2.01]
Johannes Brahms (1833 - 1897)
Sapphische Ode, op. 94 #4 (1884) [2.09]
Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918)
Trois Chansons de Bilitis (1898): La Flûte de Pan [3.08]; La Chevelure [3.43]; Le Tombeau des Naiades [2.47]
Franz Josef Haydn (1732 - 1809)
Arianna a Naxos (1790) [16.53]
William Walton (1902 - 1983)
Daphne (1970) [2.45]
Sally Bradshaw, soprano; Philip Collin, piano
Recorded at the Old Meeting House, Helmsley, Yorkshire, UK, August 2001
Notes in English including song texts in English. Photo of artists.

Comparison recordings:
Haydn, Arianna. Bartoli, Harnoncourt, Graz Fest. Orch. OpusArte DVD OA0821D

As an armchair archaeologist I am always intrigued by the perceptions of the ancient world by artists, so I looked forward to reviewing this disk and was not disappointed. Greek poetry was, after all, always sung, so it is natural that songwriters be drawn to, and be inspired by, the idea of Greek poetry. By supplying the melody, the composer is, so to speak, finishing the job for the poet who at one time would have been expected as a matter of course to furnish his own melodies and sing them as well.

The mood of most of these songs varies from quiet reflection to angry outrage; four of them are funeral odes, but four of them are sensual evocations of desire. Schubert’s particular magic with this form shines clearly, but we are delighted with the different styles and colours, and Miss Bradshaw gives us a dramatic program, finishing off with a bright tune from Schubert.

Miss Bradshaw has a bright, full, well controlled voice in high as well as lower registers. She projects the words clearly while keeping a pure tone, and easily reaches the intervals in the modern songs, intervals which a less skilled singer might find uncomfortable. Although very young, Miss Bradshaw has rapidly established a career in opera performance and teaching and has written and starred in a musical play based on the life of a famous opera singer. One is not surprised then to see her select an unusual and exploratory song program.

Debussy wrote two separate works on poems from Pierre Louys’ Bilitis—a chamber suite with spoken recitation, and the three songs with piano presented here.

The Haydn work, very well received when it premiered in London starring one of the great castrati of the day, is presented here in the composer’s original keyboard version; the orchestration on the Harnoncourt-Bartoli recording is unattributed and of much later vintage. As I said in my review of that video performance, the orchestral version seems overblown, forcing the music into an operatic format, the soprano responding to a large orchestra in a full size hall leading to a uniform sense of excess—whereas here in a recital hall with keyboard accompaniment, the drama is more appropriate to the style of the music and the vocal line can be shaped more sensitively. The result of this is that Ariadne’s horror and shock at being abandoned are actually more forcefully communicated here than on the Bartoli recording, because everything leading up to it has not been overplayed.

Accompanist Collins presents the varied dramatic styles of the accompaniments capably and with excellent tone, well balanced with the singer.

Paul Shoemaker

Chris Howell has also listened to this disc and cannot agree

It looked like a nice idea, but when I put on the first track and heard Bradshaw’s pinched, tremulous voice with its uncertain high notes, lack of phrasing and unvaried approach, plus such very reticent accompanying, I wondered if I was going to stay the course. Stern duty made me hear it through, in the course of which I noted that though she essays four languages her vowel sounds remain thoroughly English in all of them (particularly deleterious in French, obviously), that Italian, even not very good Italian, draws better singing out of her (hopelessly undramatic though she is in Haydn’s remarkable scena, long a show-piece of Janet Baker), and that she makes quite a pretty job of the final Der Musensohn. I think there is little point in going into detail, which would only be hurtful. I just cannot understand how those involved in the production didn’t realise that, when the big, wide world outside contains things like Schwarzkopf and Fischer’s Ganymed, beside which Bradshaw and Collin are merely pretty, and Cortot’s magical realisation of the Debussy Chansons de Bilitis with Maggie Teyte, which leaves present pair sounding uncomprehendingly literal, this disc could find a place in the market. And if comparison with the giants sounds unfair, then let them contrast Christiane Iven’s heartfelt rendering of Iphigenia on a recent Naxos disc with the Conservatoire-bound version here.

Contrary to what you might think, I don’t enjoy writing like this, especially when I think the verdict is "not ready yet" rather than "not up to it" in an absolute sense. Bradshaw sings in tune, the voice is potentially attractive and the basic musicality seems to be there. I suggest she comes back again after two or three years’ work with a damn good teacher.

The listing of the works without opus, Deutsch or Hoboken numbers, and the provision of translations without the original texts, simply adds to the homespun impression of the enterprise.

Christopher Howell



Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.