Call Me Flott
Geoffrey BUSH (1920-1998)
It was a Lover and his Lass [1:52]
Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Fancy [1:48]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
Fancie [0:58]
Mervyn HORDER (1910-1997)
Under the Greenwood Tree [1:37]
Charles GOUNOD (18181893)
The Fountain Mingles with the River [1:37]
Reynaldo HAHN (1875-1947)
The Swing [1:44]
Camille SAINT-SANS (1835-1921)
Cherry Tree Farm [2:23]
Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941)
O That it were So [2:13]
Antony HOPKINS (b. 1921)
A Melancholy Song [0:54]
Nol COWARD (1899-1973)
If Love were All [5:44]
Mad about the Boy [4:55]
The Party's Over [1:40]
Jerome KERN (1885-1945)
You Can't Make Love by Wireless [3:13]
Call me Flo'(tt) [1:34]
Madeleine DRING (1923-1977)
Song of a Nightclub Proprietress [2:49]
Samuel BARBER (1910-1981)
Solitary Hotel [2:35]
Irving BERLIN (1899-1989)
What'll I Do [3:32]
I Love a Piano [3:22]
Cole PORTER (1891-1964)
Miss Otis Regrets [2:48]
The Physician [4:09]
John MUSTO (b.1954)
Litany [3:50]
George WARE (1829-1895)
The Boy in the Gallery [2:42]
Arthur BLISS (1891-1975)
The Return from Town [2:05]
Lord BERNERS (1883-1950)
Come on, Algernon [3:04]
Michael FLANDERS (1922-1975) & Donald SWANN (19231904)
A Word on my Ear [4:35]
Ivor NOVELLO (1893-1951)
Bees are Buzzin' [3:13]
Herman HUPFELD (1894-1951)
Let's Put out the Lights [2:14]
Felicity Lott (soprano)
Graham Johnson (piano)
rec. Music Room, Champs Hill, West Sussex. Dates not given (2009 or 2008). DDD

Another day, another fine recital by Felicity Lott and Graham Johnson! This one is undated, but Graham Johnson's notes indicate that it was recorded in 2009 or just before. This generous, diverse programme will not be everyone's cup of tea - those who find Cole Porter, Noel Coward or Flanders and Swann tiresome need not read on. By the same token, it may well have wider appeal than a recital made up entirely of lieder - this is by and large a light-hearted tour, with Lott clearly revelling in the intimacy afforded by the lesser musical demands of much of this repertoire.
Lott's voice, like Lott herself, is slowly getting on, and in the more demanding passages there is some audible fraying, as is only natural. Yet not many people's grandmothers could sing like this: her voice is still very lithe, her intonation still immaculate, her shadings of volume and character still undiminished - and audiences can still savour her trademark clarity and warmth. Lott's operatic roles have included several comedy characters, and she draws on those experiences in many of these songs, even where the humour of the text is well past its sell-by date. Such are her abilities that even in her sixties Lott can out-perform any pop or Broadway star in any of the lighter numbers. She - Johnson too - is spot-on with Flanders and Swann's still-somehow-amusing 'A Word on my Ear', but almost enjoys Lord Berners' jaw-droppingly risqu 'Come on, Algernon' (more like "Carry on, Algernon") too much!
On the other hand, these art-oriented interpretations are unlikely to gain her any converts from among the multitudes brought up listening to more 'popular' renditions with all their emotional fakery. Speaking of which, there is a fair bit of dated doggerel-dunked dross for the discerning listener to negotiate: Kern's cringe-making 'You Can't Make Love by Wireless', Porter's crude 'The Physician', ditto Novello's The Bees are Buzzin' and Dring's utterly tedious 'Song of a Nightclub Proprietress'. Happily, there are numerous other songs to compensate, songs of great poignancy that will never age, such as Poulenc's fleeting 'Fancy', Saint-Sans' 'Cherry Tree Farm' and, from the lighter domains, Berlin's 'What'll I Do' and Porter's stark, violent 'Miss Otis Regrets' - his sadly irrepressible 'humour' thankfully toned down completely by Lott - and John Musto's modern classic, the spare and haunting 'Litany'. In these, as usual, Lott excels. Graham Johnson meanwhile does his usual excellent job as accompanist - he is not to blame for the quotidian nature of some of the piano music.
Sound quality is good, although the piano sounds slightly recessed, as is Lott's voice sometimes. Johnson's notes guide the listener song by song through the programme in interesting detail. Although he does praise some of the writers far too highly - Flanders and Swann, "divinely gifted"? - he finishes with a political statement, unfortunately portentous and probably well behind the times, about the superficiality of popular music all too often fudged by those anxious to stay young at heart or to appear trendy: "It is a sign of the times that younger professional singers of today who were raised in households where popular music held sway among their friends and relations, will be able to draw on a far less interesting and subtle treasury of family memories than we did (at least in purely musical terms) when it comes to them making records of lighter music. The party's truly over now. Or perhaps we should prepare ourselves for recordings made by the singers of tomorrow which are made as a reaction to their own parents' dewy-eyed reactions to The Rolling Stones, The Who and Oasis?" Everyone who agrees with that should find much to relish on this CD.
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Another day, another fine recital by Lott and Johnson.