Songs of Wales
Arranged by Brinley Richards (1817-1885)
Stuart Burrows (tenor); John Samuel (piano)
rec. 1986
No texts or translations included
TŶ CERDD TCR012 [59:03]

Henry Brinley Richards was born in Carmarthen, the son of an organist. His musical gifts were noticed by the Duke of Newcastle who assisted him in his studies first in London and later in Paris as a student of Chopin. He wrote much for solo piano but he is best known today for his song “God bless the Prince of Wales” and for his collection “Songs of Wales”, first published in 1873. This disc contains twenty-six songs from that collection, all sung in Welsh. The original publication had both Welsh texts, in some cases newly written, and English translations or adaptations by a number of authors including Sir Walter Scott and Mrs Hemens. Unfortunately neither texts nor translations are included with this disc so that I remain ignorant as to the sentiments or story being expressed in each song. It may well be however that this will be no problem for Welsh-speaking listeners as Stuart Burrow’s diction appears so clear and direct that I frequently imagined that I understood what was being said despite my total ignorance of the language. The lack of printed texts is therefore regrettable but not fatal to enjoyment.

And what enjoyment there is to be had here. Although the very brief notes suggest that the influence of Chopin can be heard in Richards’ accompaniments I did not find that this was the case. The main influences are Italian opera and, even more, the Victorian drawing room song. These are however by no means bad influences when they mean that the piano supports the singer so well but without any undue fussiness. Admirers of Stuart Burrows’ singing of Mozart will not need to be reminded of his wonderful tone and command of phrasing. Both are present here in abundance. The songs are more varied than might be expected so that they can be heard in succession without any sense of monotony.
It is good that Tŷ Cerdd have reissued this disc as part of their task of promoting the music of Wales. It contains most of the Welsh songs with which a non-Welsh listener might be familiar, albeit that their Welsh titles may make them appear unfamiliar, sung in a way that will give immense pleasure.

John Sheppard

Previous review: Paul Corfield Godfrey

Toraid y Dydd [3:01]
Ar Hyd y Nos [1:43]
Llwyn Onn [2:23]
Eryri Wen [1:42]
Llandovery (Yn lach i ti Gymru) [2:27]
Erddigan Hun Gwenllian [2:05]
Merch Megan [2:18]
Pe Cawn i Hon [2:20]
Clychau Aberdyfi [2:08]
Daffydd y Garreg Wen [2:14]
Hela’r Ysgyfarnog [0:52]
Anhawdd Ymadael [2:22]
Rhyfelgyrch Gwŷr Harlech [2:43]
Difyrwch Gwŷr Dyfi [1:13]
Yr Hen Sibyl Neu Winiffreda [2:20]
Rhyfelgyrch Capden Morgan [1:43]
Hob y Deri Dando [1:11]
Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn [3:53]
Y Fwyalchen [2:06]
Dyffryn Clywd (Yn Nyffryn Clywd) [2:31]
Y Ferch o’r Sger [2:27]
Y’Deryn Pur [2:12]
Tros y Garreg [2:12]
Mentra Gwen [1:59]
Ffanni Blodau’r Ffair [2:31]
Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau [3:42]