250 Years of English Song – An Anthology of English
Norma Burrowes (soprano);
Wendy Eathorne (soprano); Charles Brett (counter-tenor); Neil Jenkins
(tenor); Philip Langridge (tenor); Benjamin Luxon (baritone); Robert
Lloyd (bass-baritone); Anthony Rooley (lute); Harold Lester (harpsichord);
Colin Tilney (harpsichord); Catherine Mackintosh (violin); Polly
Waterfield (violin); Ian Gammie (violin); Trevor Jones (violin);
Jane Ryan (bass viol); Adam Skeaping (viola da gamba); Medici String
rec. October – November 1976, St John’s Smith Square; St George
the Martyr, Queen’s Square; Decca Studio 4, Tollington Park, London.
ADD LYRITA SRCD.2309
[74:39 + 78:39]
CD 1Richard EDWARDS (1522-1566)
When griping griefs John DANYEL (1565-1626) Why
Canst Thou Not; Keep Grief Within ANON.
When Daphne from fair Phoebus did fly William BYRD (1540-1623)Fair
Britain Isle; Out of the Orient Cristal Skies ANON.
I smile to see how you devise Richard FARRANT (d. 1581)Ah,
alas, you salt-sea gods ANON.
(arr Francis Cutting) How should I your true love know John DOWLAND (1563-1626) If
that a sinner’s sighs; Come away, sweet love; Go nightly cares Francis PILKINGTON (d. 1638) Now
peep, bo-peep Orlando GIBBONS (1583-1625) Ah
dear heart Thomas CAMPIAN (1567-1620) Fire,
fire; Out of my soul’s depths John WILSON (1595-1674) In
the merry month of May Henry LAWES (1596-1662) ’Tis
but a frowne; Wert thou yet fairer John HILTON (1599-1657)A Hymn to God the father Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) A
thousand several ways; O solitude; In chloris CD 2 Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) This
poet sings; With sick and famished eyes; Let the dreadful engines John ECCLES (1668-1735) Belinda's
pretty pleasing form; The jolly breeze George MONRO (d. 1731) My
Goddess Celia Richard LEVERIDGE (?1670-1758) The
Sailor’s farewell ANON.
The Maid’s twitcher Henry CAREY (?1687-1743) Flocks
are sporting; A New Year’s Ode Thomas STOKESThe Stocking
Cantata Thomas ARNE (1714-1766) O
Ravishing Delight Thomas CHILCOT (1707-1766) On
a day Samuel HOWARD (?1710-1782) Why
heaves my fond bosom William BOYCE (1711-1779) Rural
beauty; Rail no more ye learned asses Henry BURGESS (c. 1738-1765) The Rose Michael ARNE (1741-1786) The
lass with the delicate air Charles DIBDIN (1745-1814) The
lass that loved a sailor James HOOK (1746-1827) Noon Stephen STORACE (1762-1796) The
has every right to survey his fields of achievement with pleasure
… and we can join him. He launched the Lyrita label as a cottage
industry in the late 1950s. While its focus on British music
both restricted and in some sectors amplified its standing
the label was never more than a very significant independent.
Its ascent and consolidation among the illustrious heights
came to a full stop a couple of years after the arrival of
the CD in 1983. Itter, who retained personal control, was
sceptical about the new medium and would not commit to it
until a decade or so later … and then only spasmodically.
This vacuum, oddly enough, extended the life of the LP. It
fuelled and fanned a market in ‘pre-owned’ Lyrita vinyl to
absurd prices. It also had other companies - notably Chandos
- move in to re-record repertoire Lyrita had made its own
and to record new material which previously was very much
Itter and Lyrita
have now been well served in entrusting the label’s legacy
to Wyastone Estate. Mr Itter’s decision has resulted in a
breathtaking reissue programme. This has in large part been
accomplished from early 2007 to the present day. The result
is that almost the whole of their analogue and later digital
treasury are now available on CD. The analogue tapes, including
the mono sessions of the 1950s and 1960s, are all there in
resplendent transfers with only a few stragglers awaited.
There seem to be no plans for new sessions although rumours
do occasionally circulate.
The present set of recordings was not a Lyrita
original. To the best of my knowledge it was never issued.
The sessions appear to have taken place as part of a British
Council-funded scheme to produce a series of recordings surveying
British song from its earliest days to the 1970s. For whatever
reason this Decca-engineered project never got past the era
reflected in this anthology.
There will be stylistic shocks along the way.
After all, performance practice in this repertoire has moved
on – several times – over the last three decades. That said
this is admirable and tasteful singing – not so tasteful that
it lacks charm, fear, seduction, even a cheeky leer. There
are one or two technical blemishes but this is down to physical
damage to the tape stock. Listen to the rough start of Byrd's
Out of the Orient Skies. This is a song in which, incidentally,
one can hear foreshadowings of Herbert Howells' King David.
All the songs are sung with light-imbued clarion tone. Going
by these results no pains or expense were spared in this Decca-coordinated
endeavour. The songs are of a piece, being in the case of
the first disc predominantly of a grave or melancholic beauty.
The second disc spreads the range. Purcell's floridly rhetorical
settings appear with surprisingly modern sounding instrumental
accompaniment. This is not guaranteed to beguile Lyrita’s
usual audience. However those who hanker after a golden age
of British singing, before hints of the contrived and the
precious began to invade, will want this set.
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