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Gossiana – a 1920s anthology of song
Early English Ballads
ANONYMOUS
Agincourt Song [1:44] ¹
The Three Ravens [4:15] ¹
Here's a Health to His Majesty [1:37] ¹
French Ballad
ANONYMOUS
L'amour de moi [3:28]
Elizabethan Songs
John DANYEL (1564-c.1626)
I die whenas I do not see her (Danyel)
William CAVENDISH
Down in a Valley [1:30]
Philip ROSSETER (1567-1623)
What then is love but mourning [2:19]
Traditional Ballads and Sea Songs
ANONYMOUS
Barbara Allen [1:46]
Billy Boy [1:13] ¹
Shenandoah [3:37] ¹
Blow ye Winds, Heigh-Ho [2:55] ¹
Hullaballoo Ballay [1:13] ¹
Lieder
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Abendempfindung [5:46]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Totengräbers Heimweh [6:54]
Der Jüngling an der Quelle [1:45]
Fischerweise [3:13]
Robert FRANZ (1815-1892)
Aus meinen grossen Schmerzen [1:42]
English Song
Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930)
As ever I saw [1:26]
Take o take those lips away [2:24]
Milkmaids [2:00]
The Distracted Maid [5:07]
O Mistress Mine [1:29]
Captain Stratton's Fancy [1:44]
Oh good Ale [1:30] ¹
Ernest John MOERAN (1894-1950)
Sheep Shearing [3:06] ¹
Dream of Death [3:05]
Bernard van DIEREN (1884-1936)
Der Asra [3:02]
Rebecca CLARKE (1886-1979)
June Twilight [3:06]
Giles Davies (baritone)
The Goss Male Quartet ¹
Steven Devine (piano/musical direction)
rec. The Byre, Inverness, 2007
DIVINE ART DDA25048 [75:32]

 

Experience Classicsonline


A word about the title. The fulcrum of the disc is John Goss (1891-1953), singer and “bon vivant” as the sleeve-note has it. He sang the music of Warlock, Delius, Moeran, van Dieren and Goss’s one–time girlfriend, Rebecca Clarke and was a stalwart of the Ballad in the 1920s and 1930s. He made some celebrated if erratic recordings with the Cathedral Male Quartet and did much for the earlier period of English music – lute songs and the like. He didn’t ignore lieder either. His recitals reflected these disparate influences and this disc reflects those influences with equal faithfulness, dividing into the relevant areas of the wide repertory over which Goss roamed. He liked roaming Norfolk pubs too, as well as editing anthologies. He emigrated to Canada in 1939 but there was a dramatic incident at the 1949 Waldorf Hotel Peace Conference in New York that effectively ended his career. I wish we’d been told exactly what happened – and what Goss did. He retuned to England in 1950 and died three years later.

Subtitled “A 1920s Anthology of Song” we receive a firm appreciation as to Goss’s pioneering explorations. The Early English Ballads divide into solo (The Three Ravens) and the two companion works in which baritone Giles Davies is joined by The Goss Male Quartet, which features one very enthusiastically straining tenor. The Elizabethan sequence – Danyel, Cavendish and Rosseter – is well sequenced and makes for instructive contrast. Goss presumably concentrated on Schubert lieder – three of the five are of his songs - but we have something by Franz and a Mozart song as well.  It’s the English Song selection though that will probably generate the most interest and enthusiasm. There are seven songs by Warlock, two by Moeran, and one each from van Dieren and Clarke.

Giles Davies is an adept singer but no one would mistake his rather small, somewhat hollow baritone – it doesn’t have much resonance – for the stout yeomen of yore who sang Warlock. As Ever I Saw is a different kettle of fish when Norman Bailey digs into it [Belart 4616082] on his all-Warlock recital disc with Geoffrey Parsons. Similarly Christopher Maltman and John Constable essayed Take O take those lips away on Collins 15002 – and despite Maltman’s rather bleaty vibrato he and Constable are much more urgent and convincing. No one can match Robert Lloyd and Nina Walker [EMI 565 1012] in Captain Stratton’s Fancy – I quite like Giles Davies’ reading of “French/wench” lines but surely he overdoes the camp. For those attracted to Rebecca Clarke’s songs June Twilight might lead you to explore Patricia Wright and Kathron Sturrock’s all-Clarke disc on Gamut GAM CD 534. Comparison can be made between the contemporary way with Moeran’s Sheep Shearing and Goss’s own recording made back in 1926 which has been restored by Divine Art itself on 27808, its all-Moeran disc. Goss, then in his mid-thirties had a bigger, more rounded voice than Davies – nut brown and personable; he and the Cathedral Male Voice Choir make the modern claimants sound altogether too spick and span. Perhaps it’s unrealistic though to expect anything else. The Ballads and Sea Songs that end the sequence are nicely done. Barbara Allen is done rather straight, whereas Blow ye winds, heigh ho! is good fun and borders on the bucolic.

This is a worthy salute to an important figure in British song life. The performances, as suggested, are pleasant though not especially dynamic. I didn’t like the sound of Steven Devine’s piano.

Jonathan Woolf

 

 


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