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Jonathan Woolf
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You'll Never Walk Alone
César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Panis angelicus [3:22]
Albert Hay MALOTTE (1895-1964)
The Lord's Prayer (1935) arranged by Jessica Wells [2:54]
Richard RODGERS (1902-1979) and Oscar HAMMERSTEIN II (1895-1960)
You'll Never Walk Alone from Carousel arranged by Don Walker [2:37]
Adolphe ADAM (1803-1856)
O Holy Night arranged by William Ryden [4:01]
Amazing Grace arranged by Guy Noble and Sally Whitwell [3:18]
All through the Night arranged by Guy Noble[4:05]
Go, Tell It on the Mountain arranged by Bob Spencer, Sally Whitwell, David Hobson and Teddy Tahu Rhodes [2:50]
Poor Wayfaring Stranger arranged by Jessica Wells [2:26]
Battle Hymn of the Republic arranged by Jessica Wells [2:40]
Morning Has Broken, arranged by Cat STEVENS (b.1948), strings arranged by Guy Noble [2:54]
J. S. BACH (1685-1750)/Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)
Ave Maria adapted for harp and strings by James K Lee [2:52]
Stephen ADAMS (c.1841-1913)
The Holy City, orchestral reduction by Jessica Wells [3:39]
Leonard COHEN (b.1934)
Hallelujah arranged by Jessica Wells [4:18]
The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth, arranged by Jessica Wells and Laura Bishop [2:59]
William Henry MONK (1823-1889)
Abide with Me arranged by Julian Lee [2:34]
Nicholas BRODSKY (1905-1958)
I'll Walk with God from The Student Prince, piano arrangement by Sally Whitwell [3:12]
David Hobson (tenor): Teddy Tahu Rhodes (bass-baritone).
Sinfonia Australis/Guy Noble
rec. Eugene Goossens Concert Hall of ABC'S Ultimo Centre, November-December 2008
ABC CLASSICS 476 3284 [52:30]
Experience Classicsonline

The impetus for this disc was a one-off performance given by David Hobson and Teddy Tahu Rhodes of the famous duet from Bizet's The Pearl Fishers. It was a smash hit in Australia and has become 'one of the most played tracks in Australian recording history' to quote ABC's sleeve-note. They got together at the end of 2008 to produce a Recession-busting album, or, as the notes again put it, 'to record much-loved songs of hope, faith and glory, as if in defiance of the glum mood of the times brought on by the world economic crisis.' Cripes. Interest rates fall - stick on Morning Has Broken.

Actually popular song on disc has always been a decent index of contemporary events. This album certainly sticks to its brief with a smorgasbord of things ranging from the religiose, to the lachrymose, to the stirring and a few stops in between on this branch line of popular aches and pains.

If you were facing financial ruin I suppose You'll Never Walk Alone might keep you company, though if you wanted to play it to Bernie Madoff perhaps you might like to change the lyrics to 'You'll Always Walk Alone'. It's a start I suppose. Thereafter we meet and greet old and familiar friends many - though not all - in sensitive arrangements by Jessica Wells. Her arranging confreres are all noted above.

These aren't all duets of course. David Hobson takes on The Holy City unaided and his light, pliant tenor offers its own pleasing gloss. O Holy Night isn't, as one might perhaps have feared, too much covered in syrup. That contemporary classic, 'Laughing Len' Cohen's Hallelujah is here, in one of its many versions, because this is a song now sanctified with multiple versions in much the same way as Wordsworth's Prelude or the pre-Pound edited Wasteland. Teddy Tahu Rhodes croons this one over a harp ripple, though I fear his heart's not in it. No one can match the deathless Canadian in any case; heard live it's hypnotic.

Panis angelicus is a calming duet and there's a nicely modest version of Poor Wayfaring Stranger arranged by Jessica Wells. The Battle Hymn of the Republic isn't too butch. Morning Has Broken had me wishing it hadn't. I'll Walk with God, with piano to the fore, is a touch strident. Shall we, in all conscience, pass over The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth or I'll have nightmares about David Bowie. And to finish we have Go, Tell It on the Mountain, which had me thinking of Robeson or, more properly in this context, The Golden Gate Quartet perhaps.

An uplifting way to end an 'Uplift' disc.

Jonathan Woolf

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