One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


£10.95 (inclusive of p & p in the UK)

The Tend’rest Breast: Settings of women’s poetry.
Roger QUILTER (1877-1953) June; A song at parting; Wild cherry.
Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Thy hand in mine; Where she lies asleep; Love went a-riding.
Ivor GURNEY (1890-1937) Seven Sappho songs.
Lennox BERKELEY (1903-1989) Epitaph of Timas (Three Greek songs);
John IRELAND (1879-1962) The advent & Hymn for a child (Two songs sacred and profane) and Love and friendship;
Alastair KING (dates not known) Nocturne; The moment; Spell to bring lost creatures home.
Madeleine DRING (1923-1977) Don’t play your sonata tonight, Mr. Humphries.
Montague PHILLIPS (1885-1969) When April laughs; Hush’d is my lute; Sing, joyous bird.
Georgina Colwell (soprano), Nigel Foster (piano)

With its stunning cover art of the storied Greek poetess Sappho, Georgina Colwell's most recent CD, The Tend'rest Breast is assured a large audience of admirers.

This is a musical feast of settings of women's poetry, from the Classical Greco-Roman period to modern times. The range and variety of selections are impressive. We are given as many as eight Sappho songs, by Ivor Gurney (inspired by imaginative reconstructions of Sappho by Canadian poet, William Bliss Carman) and also by Lennox Berkeley; we also have a Christina Rossetti by Roger Quilter; an Emily Bronte by John Ireland; and other engaging settings of women's verse by composers Frank Bridge, Alastair King, Madeleine Dring and Montague Phillips.

Ms Colwell, an established specialist on English Song and a trained soprano, is no stranger to the British music circuit, of course; this is a repertoire she has finely mastered, these many years. For career details, as well as previous recordings and other credits, see Her sensitive interpretation of these richly varied poems by women writers, on this occasion, amply demonstrates Ms Colwell’s deep knowledge of the material, in all of its complexity, tensions, and great beauty. Devotees of English song have long appreciated her splendid diction, and here again they shall be impressed with her delivery and sound.

Her accompanist, pianist Nigel Foster, turns in a strong performance, as well; indeed, he supports and complements Ms Colwell's varying styles. Well established associates by now, Foster and Colwell are alert and sympathetically flexible to one another’s strengths - an essential dynamic.

The quality of the recording is quite good, particularly for a live performance – this is not a finely calibrated studio recording, mind you. And, as other reviewers have noted, listeners will not be distracted by very minor environmental noise, now and again, at the recording venue (a hall in Walton-on-Thames). If anything, a few coughs and thuds add to the moment.

The Tend'rest Breast is essential listening for all devotees of women's literature. In addition to its handsome packaging, and a color photograph of Colwell and Foster, the CD includes the full text of each of the songs recorded, which is an especially useful resource for teachers of this material. For my part, I am using the CD with great success in my 'Global Literatures' class this Spring term (2006) at St John's University, Manhattan. As one student wrote in a recent essay, "Now that I have heard Sappho's poetry sung by Ms Colwell, I have a whole new relationship to the material; I have a better sense of what this ancient Greek writer is saying to us and why her slight but fascinating body of work continues to compel our attention."  
Highly recommended, indeed, for a broad variety of listeners and purposes.
Maureen E. Mulvihill

see also review by Philip Scowcroft



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

All Chandos reviews

All Hyperion reviews

All Foghorn reviews

All Troubadisc reviews

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

All Lyrita Reviews


Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month


Donizetti - Le Convenienze ed Inconvenienze Teatrali

Chamber Symphonies 2 & 4

French Cello Concertos





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.