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The Salley Gardens - A Treasury of English Song
Trad. Arr. Phyllis TATE (1911-1985) The Lark in the Clear Air
Trad. Arr. Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) The Salley Gardens; How Sweet the Answer; O Waly, Waly; I Will Give my Love an Apple; The Ash Grove; The Minstrel Boy
Trad. Arr. Herbert HUGHES (1882-1937) She Moved thro' the Fair; I Know Where I'm Goin'
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Linden Lea; Silent Noon
Roger QUILTER (1877-1953) Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal; Believe me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms; Love's Philosophy; Barbara Allen
Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Heart Worships
Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Come to me in my Dreams; Love Went a-Riding
Arnold BAX (1883-1953) Rann of Exile
Ivor GURNEY (1890-1937) Sleep
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Like to the Damask Rose
Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930) Sleep
Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) Twilight Fancies; Young Venevil
Alicia SPOTTISWOODE (1810-1900) Annie Laurie
Yvonne Kenny (soprano)
Caroline Almonte piano
Rec 6-11 April 2003, IwakiAuditorium, ABC Southbank Centre, Melbourne. DDD
ABC CLASSICS 476 158-1 [62.19]


By one of those co-incidences, this disc from ABC arrived for review at the same time as Opera Rara’s ‘The Young Donizetti’ featuring a younger Yvonne Kenny in solo and ensemble . Born in Sydney, Yvonne made her professional debut in London in 1975 in a concert performance of Donizetti’s Rosmondo d’Inghilterra. After winning the renowned Kathleen Ferrier Competition she joined the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, singing the light lyric roles of Pamina, Susanna, Adina and Liu among others. In the field of opera she has appeared at the Vienna State Opera, La Scala, Paris Opera as well as in America and at the major international festivals. She has a distinguished list of opera recordings to her name for a variety of labels including her Italian bel-canto portrayals for Opera Rara. She has made several recordings for ABC. This disc follows closely on her second volume of ‘Great Operatic Arias’ recently released on the Chandos label.

This issue of English Songs is particularly welcome not only for Ms Kenny’s participation but because this repertoire is now so infrequently recorded. Hyperion have given us two volumes sung by the internationally renowned English baritone (Sir) Thomas Allen and titled ‘Songs My Father Taught Me’. (Vol. 1 Vol. 2 ). Operatic singers face significant challenges in fining their big voices for the intimate sense of a recital whilst maintaining their legato and conveying the mood and expression of the song. Seeing the title and noting the number of traditional songs arranged by Benjamin Britten will simulate those with long memories to recall the composer’s accompanying of his partner Peter Pears in this repertoire. Pear’s lean tenor and biting enunciation of the texts of songs appealed to many, although his voice could not be called beautiful in the way Yvonne Kenny’s can be described. In bringing beauty of tone to their song repertoire sopranos also have the challenge, much discussed recently, of the consonants. If there is any criticism to be made in this wide-ranging collection it is that her softening of the consonants obscures comprehension of the words. These words are provided in full in the accompanying leaflet. Following them through with the singer I was forcefully struck by how her vocal nuance, tonal variation and expressiveness convey the various sentiments and moods of the songs whilst maintaining her admirable legato. In all of this she is well supported and helped by the playing of her pianist and compatriot Caroline Almonte.

The recording was made in a warm rather resonant acoustic and the balance between singer and accompanist is nicely judged. I recommend this disc to all lovers of English song and of this singer’s art in particular.

Robert J Farr

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