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Brian Blyth DAUBNEY (b. 1929)
October Roses

1.The Lent Lily [2:19]
2. March [2:56]
3. A Rose for Lidice [5:08]
4. She hath an Art [1:26]
5. Autumn, the Fool [1:52]
6. Echo and Narcissus [2:16]
7. The Frost [1:34]
8. Helen in Sparta [2:47]
9. Goblin Song [2:21]
10. Mother Redcap [2:59]
11. Hospital Grapes [2:54]
12. Young Friend [3:00]
13. The Singer [2:40]
14. I must go and sleep [2:37]
15. Absence [3:06]
16. Dirge for a Lady [2:58]
17. John Anderson, my Jo [1:44]
18. Wantage Bells [1:57]
19. Shed No Tear [2:55]
20. Natura Naturans [1:37]
21. The Storm [2:01]
22. The Lake Isle of Innisfree [3:19]
23. The Folly of Being Comforted [2:57]
24. The Sigh [4:33]
25. Lyonnesse [3:08]
26. The Fiddler of Dooney [1:35]
27. On the Death of Anne Brontë [4:05]
28. The Cloths of Heaven [1:39]
29. October Roses [1:26]
30. Resurrection Spiritual [2:58]
Anna Dennis (soprano: 5-9, 15-20, 27-30); William Berger (baritone: 1-4, 10-14, 21-26)
John Talbot (piano)
rec. Music Hall of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, May-June 2006

What a welcome issue this is from the enterprising British Music Society. Brian Blyth Daubney’s long career as a music teacher, music editor, and producer of musicals and operas, has been paralleled by that of composer of choral and theatre music, but more especially, of songs. A lovely selection of these appears on this disc, most hailing from the last fifteen years or so, and only two, “She hath an Art” and “John Anderson, my Jo” dating from the late fifties. 
Outstanding here are the settings of British poet, John Alan Davis. “I must go and sleep” has the simple inevitability of a good folksong, and “Hospital Grapes” shows Daubney at this most skilful: an experienced accompanist himself, the composer knows to keep the textures of the piano part sparse so that the text of this superb poem is crystal clear. William Berger’s performance also ensures this, relishing lines like “Your veined voluptuousness” and catching the somewhat more serious mood of the last section perfectly.  “Mother Redcap” too shows an inventive response to another resonant poem by Davis.
Throughout these songs and indeed throughout this disc, John Talbot articulates the piano parts with unerring sensitivity, gauging precisely when restraint is appropriate as in the Davis songs, and when assertion is demanded as in “The Fiddler of Dooney”.  In his choice of texts, Daubney  responds particularly to the nostalgic melancholy of the Hardy poems. “The Sigh” seems to me the most distinguished song on this disc and “Lyonnesse” not far behind, Berger’s baritone ringing out thrillingly in the climactic final verse of this song as the mood changes from “lonesomeness” to exultation. Similar in their sensitive rapport with the nostalgic mood of poems by Keats, Yeats, and Charlotte Brontë, are “Shed no Tear”, the feeling nicely caught by Anna Dennis (how beautiful the piano part is here, relished and beautifully realized by John Talbot), “The Folly of Being Comforted”, and “On the Death of Anne Brontë” where Dennis again faithfully creates, with her rather plangent tone, Charlotte’s feeling of loss at the death of her sister.  It is in his response to the mood of these sombre poems that Daubney is most successful, I think, rather than to the jolly, quirky texts of two other poems by John Allan Davis, “October Roses” and “Resurrection Spiritual”.  But I’ll have to confess that this comment probably says more about the preferences of this reviewer than the quality of these two songs, objectively considered. Certainly Daubney’s version of a spiritual makes a rousing ending for this excellent disc.
Throughout, the balance between singer and piano is ideal, a tribute to the collaborative work of the artists and the work of the sound engineers. In the accompanying booklet, full texts are supplied, together with informative material on composer and artists.
(First published English Poetry and Song Society Newsletter 34, March 2007. Appearing here by permission)
Graham Bruce

see also reviews by Hubert Culot and John France

British Music Society page 




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