OF THE MONTH
Dvorak Opera Premiere
Obtainable for £12 (incl. p&p UK only) from
Dr David Wright D Mus OM, Elvington House, 24 Belvedere Street,
Ryde, Isle of Wight,
PO33 2JW, UK. Tel: +44(0)1983 812476
Songs Discovered Thomas DUNHILL How soft upon
the ev'ning air (Irene Gass) J Meredith TATTON
The Shepherdess (Alice Meynell) Winifred BURY Lullaby (Ida M
Downing) David WRIGHT Two Carols op.
4: (Anon) A carol in April; The Moke's Carol James BROWN
Swinging on a birch tree (Lucy Larcom) Ivor GURNEY
Since Thou O fondest and truest (Bridges) Ian VENABLES Love lives beyond
(John Clare) Philip WOOD
If we must part (Dowson) Frank HARVEY
A quoi bon dire (Charlotte Mew) Frank HARVEY The Stranger (Walter
de la Mare) Winifred BURY
There is a ladye (Thomas Ford) Ivor GURNEY
Come away Death (Shakespeare) Ian VENABLES
At the Court of the Poisoned Rose (Marion Angus) Humphrey SEARLE
Golden Hair; I hear an army marching (Two songs from 'Chamber
Music' by James Joyce*) James BROWN
A Nocturne (W S Blunt)
(* two Searle songs that would have been lost had David Wright not
Judith Buckle (mezzo);
Peter Bailey (piano)
rec. 19 November and 3 December, 2008, Music Room Pizza Express
Maidstone Private Issue [timing details not given]
With the first half dozen and more of these songs on this delightful
recording we are in a world bequeathed to us by Hubert Parry.
These songs are a genre all their own - contemporary only in that
they are timeless - belonging to a generation one of whose joys
was the gathering in the evening around the parlour piano
awaiting, as I once said on another occasion “hot buttered
crumpets to come”. They belong to a tradition as English
as that comestible yet are of as universal appeal as are such
age-old favourites as 'Stonecracker John', 'Sea Fever'
and 'Five Eyes'.
The disc is titled 'Songs Discovered' and while the majority
of the poets may be 'kent faces' the songs are indeed
'discoveries' and are in fact world premiere recordings!
This, for me, has thrown up some rare, unmissable experiences.
While all seventeen songs have an obvious unity there is a great
variety of stylistic expression. These range from the simple love-song
of Winifred Bury: about whom seemingly nothing is known! To the
subtly conventional Thomas Dunhill. Then there's Ian Venables'
evocative treatment of the enigmatic Sitwellian imagery of Marion
Angus's 'The Court of the Poisoned Rose'. Not to mention
the Gilbert & Sullivan-esque whimsy of 'Swinging on a
Birch Tree' with its exciting accompaniment.
It is also surprising to find not one but two unrecorded songs
of Gurney - although neither seems to me particularly characteristic.
There are also darknesses in the mysterious world of de la Mare
- and the Searle 'I hear an army marching' transcends
the prevailing mood.
The whole conception is a generous Maeceanas-like effort on the
part of Dr David Wright, composer and musicologist from the Isle
of Wight - and here participating with two cheerful carols written
in his schooldays. He has personally covered three-quarters of
the cost 'pour encourager les autres'. I wish him success.
The technically assured and expressive voice of Judith Buckle,
despite her involvement since the 1970s with oratorio, opera and
theatrical work, is also a 'discovery', her enunciation
bright and clear. This helps to overcome the absence of poetic
text. The pianist, Peter Bailey, equally technically assured,
is as fine an accompanist as I have ever heard. In the later pieces
on the disc, in particular the songs of Ian Venables, he is truly
a partner and not simply an accompanist.
The recording itself is crisp, the balance excellent - a very
fine disc indeed.
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