Moving steadily onwards, we now arrive at volume eight in the McCormack edition from Naxos, and find ourselves deeply embedded in songs of wartime and Irish sentiment. There are no ‘classical’ songs as such, excepting the Messager song which has undergone Anglicisation.
My Irish Song of Songs is a charming entrée, though his ascent to the head voice here (and elsewhere) is a rather overused way to end songs. Gitz Rice’s Dear Old Pal of Mine is a particular example of a general trait around this time. There are two versions of Wilfred Sanderson’s God Be With Our Boys Tonight. He essays a trio of songs by Haydn Wood. In Love’s Garden of Roses the legato freshness of his voice proves admirable. Dream On, Little Soldier Boy from Irving Berlin’s show Yip! Yip! Yaphank was not issued at the time, but first saw the light after McCormack’s death. His Irish brogue adds an interesting gloss on Berlin’s song, the first by the composer that he recorded. When You Come Back is a militaristic opus in Broadway style, rousingly declaimed. Naturally we have Roses of Picardy, but of more discographic interest, perhaps, is the song by his loyal accompanist Teddy Schneider, Only You.
McCormack’s communicative spirit almost manages to salvage The Road That Brought You to Me from its pervasive air of potboiling lachrymosity - almost, but not quite. Throughout the disc his colleagues in the Victor Orchestra directed by Josef Pasternack provide decent support. (As an aside, are we ever going to get transfers of any of Pasternack’s pioneering symphonic recordings?) There are also accompaniments by some well known recording artists of the time. Violinist Howard Rattay even gets a solo on That Tumble Down Shack in Athlone. His rather thin-toned presence, and that of his colleague John Witzmann, can also be felt in Harold Craxton’s Beneath the Moon of Lombardy. A more lasting part of the tenor’s repertoire was The Bard of Armagh which he sings, despite the cumbersome orchestral arrangement, with moving scena-like intensity - though he was arguably more moving still in later recordings.
In the main however, unruffled charm and affectionate lingering dominate. The transfers are first class and there’s an unusually full and interesting booklet note to keep one company as one listens to the great Irish tenor.
My Irish Song of Songs [2:45]
Little Mother of Mine [2:31]
God Be With Our Boys Tonight [3:33]
Dear Old Pal of Mine [3:06]
Love’s Garden of Roses [3:09]
Sometime You’ll Remember Me [3:17]
God Be With Our Boys Tonight [3:32]
Yip! Yip! Yaphank: Dream On, Little Soldier Boy [3:30]
George M. COHAN
When You Come Back [3:10]
The Better ’Ole; When You Look in The Heart of a Rose [2:45]
Roses of Picardy [2:53]
She’s A Good Fellow: The First Rose of Summer [2:49]
Only You [2:33]
Rose of My Heart [3:20] *
The Road That Brought You to Me [2:35] *
That Tumble Down Shack in Athlone [3:04] *
Teresa DEL RIEGO
Thank God for a Garden [2:24] **
When You and I Were Young, Maggie [3:13]
Somewhere [3:25] *
Your Eyes Have Told Me So [2:48]
Macushla: ’Tis An Irish Girl I Love And She’s Just Like You [2:44] *
Monsieur Beaucaire: Honour and Love [3:22]
Beneath the Moon of Lombardy [2:44] *ǂǂ
Sweet Peggy O’Neill [2:15]
TRADITIONAL arr. HUGHES
The Bard of Armagh [3:05]
Wonderful World of Romance [3:27]