53,454 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
Normal service resumed


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


Recordings of the Month


Beethoven String Quartets

Produzioni Armoniche

Seven Symphonic Poems

Shostakovich VC1 Baiba Skride
Tchaikovsky Symph 5 Nelsons

Vivaldi Violin Concertos



Beethoven Piano Concertos

Stradal Transcriptions

LOSY Note d’oro

Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

This Other Eden: a Landscape of English Poetry and Song
Kitty Whately (mezzo)
Joseph Middleton (piano)
Navarra Quartet (Magnus Johnston (violin I), Marije Ploemacher (violin Ii), Simone van der Giessen (viola), Brian O'Kane (cello))
Kevin Whately and Madelaine Newton (readers)
rec. 2014, Music Room, Champs Hill, West Sussex.
Texts included
Full track-listing below

As mezzo Kitty Whately writes in her bubbly and enthusiastic forward, this is a very personal album of some of her favourite songs in English. I put it that way round, as opposed to English song, as the disc ranges widely to include Barber’s setting of Dover Beach and James MacMillan’s The Children, to a poem by William Soutar. It’s personal in another sense given that her parents, the actors Kevin Whately and Madelaine Newton read the interspersed poems. This construction reminds me of some cherished LPs, in which the same practice was followed to great effect. Here the disc is divided into ‘chapters’ – This Other Eden, Forests and Gardens, Meadows and Fields, Wilds of Scotland and Coasts and Seas. Appropriate songs and poems can be found in each chapter – Dover Beach is obviously under Coasts and Seas, for instance, whilst The Salley Gardens is logically found in Forests and Gardens. Edward Thomas’ famous poem Adlestrop is under the Meadows and Fields rubric.

What is admirable about Whately’s approach is the inclusion of both dramatic flourish – such as mark out her performance of John Ireland’s Earth’s Call – and expressive nuance, which can be savoured as Warlock’s My Own Country draws to a close. Here she fines down her often big tone in the interests of some extra, introspective charge. In the Ireland song she’s also unafraid to take her time; Alfreda Hodgson in her Lyrita recording of the Ireland song took it a degree or two quicker. Joseph Middleton makes an admirable partner throughout and they are joined a few times by violinist Magnus Johnston and cellist Brian O’Kane. You needn’t worry that this is a saccharine sachet too far as the pre-war Lyons Corner House ethos is not evoked.

It’s good to hear Michael Head’s charming, light A Green Cornfield and the contrasting, increasingly urgent and exciting The Estuary. It’s especially good to hear Joseph Horovitz’s Lady Macbeth: a scena which sets speeches from three scenes in the Scottish play, ending inevitably with the first scene of Act V, Out, damned spot! This really is a scena at eight-and-a-half-minutes and its volatility is very well conveyed in this performance. James MacMillian is the only other living composer represented and his setting of Soutar’s bleak poem on the death of children by aerial bombing in the Second World War is accompanied by daringly drawn out – appalled, powerful, uncomfortable – silences. There are also piano outbursts like detonations in an often rightly gruelling and unconsoling setting.

Interpretative matters are – like this disc – very personal but I find too little regret in The Salley Gardens. It’s all a bit ‘oh well’. Similarly VW’s Silent Noon is neither as hushed, nor as inward as it might be; an element of metricality seeps in which saps it of its stasis. Dover Beach, with the Navarra Quartet, however, is sensitively shaped and evocative.

Middleton enjoys two solo outings, on Ireland’s Spring Will Not Wait and the rather unusual Britten Early Morning Bathe, which is full of wave-like motion. The poems aren’t generally-speaking obscure; Gaunt’s speech, de la Mare’s England, two well-known Housmans, Sea Fever; but it was good to find Wendell Berry. In general – and whilst I appreciate that this isn’t a specialist undertaking – I wish the poems had ranged farther. Yes, Louis Untermeyer’s The Swimmers is a good choice, but why not - say – some Lascelles Abercrombie for once in a while, instead of Thomas.

Still, that’s to criticise a disc for what it’s not, rather than for what it is. This is a pleasingly engaging recital, excellently recorded and annotated, in which for the most part Kitty Whately succeeds in projecting these songs with personality and insight but without histrionic gestures.
Jonathan Woolf

Full track-listing

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) - This sceptred Isle (Richard II)
John IRELAND (1879-1962)
Earth's Call [5.24]
Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930)
My own country [2.27]
Walter de la Mare (1873-1956) - England
Roger  QUILTER (1877-1953)
I will go with my father a-ploughing [2.21]
John Clare (1793-1864) - In Hilly-wood
Ivor GURNEY (1890-1937)
The Salley Gardens [2.23]
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
We'll to the woods no more [1.42]
Wendell Berry (born 1934) - The peace of wild things
Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983)
King David [5.02]
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) - The Darkling Thrush
Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924)
La belle Dame sans Merci [6.06]
Silent Noon [4.05]
Christina Rosetii (1830-1894) - The Lambs of Grasmere
Michael HEAD (1900-1976)
A Green Cornfield [2.17]
Spring will not wait [3.58]
Edward Thomas (1878-1917) - Aldestrop
Ivor GURNEY (1890-1937)
The Fields are Full [1.37]
Joseph HOROVITZ (born 1926)
Lady Macbeth: A Scena [8.31]
I wish and I wish [2.14]
A.E. Housman - Into my heart an air that kills
James MacMILLAN (born1959)
The Children [6.51]
A.E. Housman - O Stay at home my lad and plough [00.31]
Ma bonny lad [1.11]
Louis Untermeyer (1885-1977) - The Swimmers
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
Early Morning Bathe [2.32]
Michael HEAD
The Estuary [4.40]
John Masefield (1878-1967) - Sea Fever [1.07]
Samuel BARBER (1910-1981)
Dover Beach [7.52]



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger