Thomas DUNHILL (1877-1946)
How soft upon the ev’ning air [2:08]
J Meredith TATTON (1901-1970)
The Shepherdess [1:53]
There is a ladye [2:09]
David WRIGHT (b.1946)
Two Carols Op.4; A carol in April [1:38]; The Moke’s carol [1:54]
James BROWN (1923-2004)
Swinging on a birch tree [2:20]
A Nocturne [2:48]
Ivor GURNEY (1890-1937)
Since thou O fondest and truest [2:09]
Come away death [2:09]
Ian VENABLES (b.1956)
Love lies beyond [2:54]
At the court of the poisoned rose [5:34]
Philip WOOD (b.1972)
If we must part [2:19]
Frank HARVEY (b.1939)
A quoi bon dire [2:43]
The Stranger [2:35]
Humphrey SEARLE (1915-1982)
Two songs from Chamber Music by James Joyce; Golden Hair [1:06]; I Hear An Army Marching [1:45]
Judith Buckle (mezzo); Peter Bailey (piano)
rec. November and December 2008, Music Room, Pizza Express, Maidstone, Kent
WRIGHT MUSIC CD 101 [41:16]
A disc that presents a sequence of premiere recordings is not to be overlooked, and admirers of British muse will be interested in the range of composers, chronologically spanning from Dunhill to Philip Wood. Additionally it’s interesting to note that the Gurney songs are apparently making their premiere appearance on disc.
The early settings are strongly influenced by Parry - Dunhill’s and Tatton’s and the little known Winifred Bury’s as well. Incidentally J Meredith Tatton became a rancher in Texas, an unusual occupation for a British composer. All three are exponents of genial and ingratiating charm. The two carols by David Wright are attractive, youthful works whilst Philip Wood’s Dowson setting is highly attentive to textual matters, and gives the piano an almost dreamlike quality, vesting little monologues into the musical narrative.
Frank Harvey’s A quoi bon dire is an assertive, vigorous and powerful setting but it would be interesting to know, as stated in the biographical notes, in what possible circumstances Schoenberg (d.1951) could have admired Harvey’s (b.1939) First Quartet. Perhaps the most sheerly impressive settings are those by Ian Venables. Love lies beyond is splendidly distributed between vocal and accompanying parts. And At the court of the poisoned rose is highly evocative, with a great play of texture, colour, and rhythm. Gurney’s two settings are welcome additions though not top-drawer. Searle’s own two settings offer a Joycean contrast, the second construing march rhythms with tactile immediacy.
The proponents for the music are the mezzo Judith Buckle and pianist Peter Bailey, both fine musicians. Some of the songs sit ungratefully for her voice. James Brown’s Swinging on a birch tree, for example, is simply too high for her and she forces the voice, to its detriment. A setting such as Harvey’s The Stranger however sits much more comfortably, allowing one better to appreciate the intrinsic quality of her singing. There are no texts and the disc, well recorded, lasts only 41 minutes. However these are all novelties and as such valuably brought to our listening attention.
All novelties valuably brought to our listening attention ... see Full Review