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Sweet Swan of Avon
Charles DIBDIN
The Warwickshire Lad from "Shakespeare's Garland" or "The Warwickshire Jubilee" [2.37]
Robert JOHNSTON
Full Fathom Five from "The Tempest" [1.63]
Thomas ARNE
Thou soft-flowing Avon from "Garrick's Ode"
[2.55]
Richard EVERIDGE
Macbeth, Cauldron Scene [3.41]
William MATHIAS
It was a lover and his lass from "As you Like it" [1.59]
Howard BLAKE
Under the Greenwood Tree from "As you Like It" [2.10]
William MATHIAS
Final Dance from "As you like It" [1.43]
Guy WOOLFENDEN
Blow, Blow from "As you Like It" [2.54]
Raymond LEPPARD
Horn Calls and Interlude from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" [1.15]
Guy WOOLFENDEN
Philomel from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" [2.46];
Jeremy SAMS
Jeremy's Jig from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" [1.28]
Thomas ARNE
Cuckoo Song from “love's Labour's Lost" [3.03]
Guy WOOLFENDEN
Pavane - Gigue – Pavane from "Much Ado about Nothing"
[3.25]
James WALKER
Tell me where Is fancy bred from "The Merchant of Venice" [1.14]
Charles WARREN
Harp Dance from "Measure for Measure" [0.44]
Guy WOOLFENDEN
Ariel's Song from "The Tempest" [0.59]
Arthur SULLIVAN
Orpheus with his Lute from "Henry VIII" [3.43]
Guy WOOLFENDEN
The Owl and the Cuckoo from "love's labour's Lost" [4.19]
Ilona SEKACZ
You spotted snakes from "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
[3.11]
Richard Rodney BENNETT
Masque
from "Timon of Athens" [2.16]
Guy WOOLFENDEN
Welsh Song from "Henry IV. part 1" [2.37]
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
Doll's Entrance from "Henry IV, part 2" [1.17]
Leslie BRIDGEWATER
Dance from "Romeo and Juliet"
[1.10]
James WALKER
Hark, hark the lark from "Cymbeline" [1.23]
Lennox BERKLEY
Daffodils from "A Winter's Tale" [1.59]
John GRAINGER
Waltz from “All's Well that Ends Well"
[1.02]
John WILSON
Take those lips away from "Measure for Measure"
[1.19]
Nigel HESS
Pavane from “Much Ado about Nothing" [2.10]; Dance from "Much Ado about Nothing" [1.28]
Howard BLAKE
It was a lover and his lass from "As you like it"
[1.41]
James WALKER
Sigh no more, ladie from "Much Ado about Nothing" [2.14]
Anthony BERNARD
When that I was a little tiny boy from 'Twelfth Night"
[1.42]

Yvonne Howard (mezzo); Jamie MacDougall (tenor)
English Serenata/Guy Woolfenden
rec. no details given DDD
MERIDIAN CDE84301 [68.04]
 

Experience Classicsonline


This disc is a collection of Shakespeare settings. These songs, dances and instrumental interludes have almost all been composed for performances and productions of Shakespeare’s plays, and are mostly drawn from theatrical productions at Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Spanning four centuries, the disc naturally includes a huge variety of works, and composers range from Robert Johnson and John Wilson in the seventeenth century, up to and including the conductor of this disc. This also means a combination of very different styles – from Elizabethan songs, through Victorian ballads, and what one might call “English solo song” - referring to a particular early twentieth century ‘genre’ - to folk music, light music and almost, at times, a style in the more modern pieces akin to musicals. This blend actually works very well, and brings great interest and diversity to the disc. 

It opens with a lively version of Dibdin’s The Warwickshire Lad, and highlights include a lush Orpheus with his Lute by Sir Arthur Sullivan, a very pretty It was a Lover and his Lass by William Matthias, a gorgeously lyrical Under the Greenwood Tree by Howard Blake, and an incredibly dramatic section from Macbeth, where the eighteenth-century Richard Leveridge depicts the witches mixing up their magic brew - the performers here clearly enjoy themselves with hideous hag voices – excellent! 

Also worthy of note is Raymond Leppard’s atmospheric Horn calls and Interlude from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, extremely well played here by horn player Michael Revell, a lovely interlude by Ralph Vaughan Williams, based on the folk song Lady in the Dark, which was used for the 1913 Stratford Festival (of which Vaughan Williams was the musical advisor), and a rather Britten-esque Daffodils interlude for A Winter’s Tale by Lennox Berkeley, which is followed by a lilting Waltz by John Gardner that seems to continue a Britten likeness by hinting at the Four Sea Interludes. 

The disc concludes with a charming setting of When that I was a little tiny boy by Anthony Bernard, a friend of Peter Warlock’s, and fellow Elizabethan music enthusiast. This disc is full of some extremely attractive music, although if I have one complaint, it must be that the selection leans too heavily towards the contemporary – more earlier pieces would have been good, and might have presented a slightly more equal balance. 

The performers are all good – the English Serenata play with vivacity and enthusiasm, and mezzo soprano Yvonne Howard and tenor Jamie MacDougall are very good – their flexible, strong voices are able to deal with the great range of works presented here.

Em Marshall


 


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