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The Salley Gardens- A Treasury of English Song

Phyllis TATE (1911-1985) arranged The Lark in the Clear Air [1.40]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) arranged The Salley Gardens [2.11]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) arranged How Sweet the Answer [1.59]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) arranged O Waly, Waly [3.49]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) arranged I Will Give My Love An Apple [1.16]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) arranged The Ash Grove [2.19]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) arranged The Minstrel Boy [1.49]
Roger QUILTER (1877-1953) arranged Believe Me if all those Endearing Young Charms [2.02]
Roger QUILTER (1877-1953) arranged Barbara Allen [3.20]
Herbert HUGHES (1882-1937) arranged She Moved thro’ the Fair [3.00]
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)

Linden Lea [2.05]
Silent Noon [4.10]
Alicia SPOTTISWOODE (1810-1900)

I know Where I’m Goin’ [1.57]
Ivor GURNEY (1890-1937)

Sleep [2.33]
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)

Like to the Damask Rose [3.08]
Roger QUILTER (1877-1953)

Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal [1.54]
Love’s Philosophy [1.23]
Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)

Twilight Fancies [3.24]
Young Venevil [1.48]
Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930)

Sleep [1.59]
Gustav HOLST (1974-1934)

The Heart Worships [3.34]
Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941)

Love went a-Riding [1.33]
Come to me in my Dreams [3.19]
Arnold BAX (1883-1953)

Rann of Exile [3.09]
Yvonne Kenny (soprano)
Caroline Almonte (piano)
Recorded in the Iwaki Auditorium of ABC, Melbourne, April 2003
ABC CLASSICS 4761581 [62.19]


A word of caution firstly concerning the sound of this disc. It was recorded in the very resonant acoustic of ABC’s Melbourne Iwaki Auditorium and this leads to considerable spread. It also manages to magnify the occasional strains in Yvonne Kenny’s voice, notably at the top, both of which are problematic throughout the course of this attractive, though by now fairly standard repertoire recital.

Taking the songs in disc order I enjoyed Kenny’s Phyllis Tate arranged The Lark in the Clear Air for its sweet affection though I was disappointed by Linden Lea. It’s rather breathless, somewhat over metrical and too fast for effective word pointing. I doubt also – though I don’t want to go to war over it – whether women do this song justice. Mind you after hearing Heddle Nash sing it you’ll wonder whether anyone can do it justice. She takes a much better tempo for Quilter and lavishes great care and tensile intensity over Holst’s remarkable The Heart Worships.

Bridge’s Love went a-Riding is pushed too hard and suffers accordingly. Silent Noon also shows some weaknesses; it lacks intimacy and she elongates the phrase "still as the hourglass" to a dangerous degree in the interests of expressive phrasing. But it sounds wrong, and whilst the way she colours "soul" is freighted with meaning it too comes across as just a touch too much. Gurney’s Sleep is too operatic and Warlock’s setting of the same poem, much inferior to Gurney’s, makes as little impression on me as it usually does. Love’s Philosophy unfortunately reveals an effortful top with a degree of spread and unsteadiness in the voice but the Delius is much better. I’m not quite sure why Kenny responds to some of the lyrics with such perception – Delius, Holst, some of the Quilter – and others, Linden Lea for instance, with such a degree of seeming indifference. Unless this is a Cortot situation, with an artist rather taking for granted repertoire with which he is familiar – and occasionally stumbling – but responding with greater immediacy to the challenges of the new.

Caroline Almonte plays well throughout – especially so in a setting such as the bell peal-laden Barbara Allen. Given the recording problems, and some concerns with Yvonne Kenny’s voice in this recital, I’m afraid my welcome is mixed.

Jonathan Woolf


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