One of the most grown-up review sites around

50,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

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

Some items
to consider


A most rewarding CD
Renate Eggebrecht violin


Nick Barnard review
Michael Cookson review

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Anderson Choral music

colourful and intriguing

Pekarsky Percussion Ensemble

one of Berlioz greatest works

Rebecca Clarke Frank Bridge
High-octane performances

An attractive Debussy package

immaculate Baiba Skride

eloquent Cello Concerto

tension-filled work

well crafted and intense

another entertaining volume

reeking of cordite

Pappano with a strong cast

imaginatively constructed quartets

the air from another planet

vibrantly sung

NOT a budget performance

very attractive and interesting

finesse and stylistic assurance

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Songs of the Sea and Folk
Benjamin Luxon (baritone)
Owen Branningan (bass)
David Willison (piano)
Climax Male Voice Choir/Edgar Kessell
No texts
Recording details not provided.
GRIFFIN GCCD4084 [78:53]

If you enjoy the rollicking of the waves, the taste of ripe Jamaica and the heartiness of Vicars and Millers and don’t mind the sound of older recordings, you’ll enjoy this reissue. If, however, you are a stickler for detail, a discographic pedant, or merely a critic who wishes to draw attention to provenance (or indeed all three) you’ll be tearing your hair out.

I don’t suppose you’ll buy a disc which features music sung by Owen Brannigan and expect a digital recording. But nowhere, other a discreet reference to ‘stereo 1961/70’ on the silver disc itself, is there any indication of dates of recording or any precision as to accompanists, other than Gerald Moore. Fortunately, I have a couple of the LPs from which the Brannigan selections are sourced, but it’s pretty rough on Ernest Lush and Charles Mackerras, for example, that they go unmentioned (though the latter is noted as arranger on the two tracks in question). It would be enjoyable for the prospective purchaser to know this too, surely, notwithstanding the fact that this disc is clearly aimed at a more popular market.

That gripe over, the large-scale focus is Stanford and Benjamin Luxon’s Songs of the Sea. His famous recording of this is the EMI LP with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus directed by Norman del Mar but this earlier version comes from an Abbey disc (LPB689) released c.1970, as far as I can tell. Accompaniment comes from the always-excellent pianist David Willison, and vocal contributions from the Climax Male Voice Choir conducted by Edgar S. Kessell. The association of Luxon and Stanford was a happy one but this traversal is certainly robust in terms of the choir and the rather dry, leaden recording. Willison’s sensitive pianism is at its most pliant in Homeward Bound, where Luxon’s half voice is impressive too. The Old Superb is pretty blowsy stuff, with the choir hale and decidedly hearty and this is certainly a performance full of salt and brine and also a ration of choral approximation very different from spick and span metropolitan choral singing.

It’s good to hear Frederick Keel’s three Salt Water Ballads, especially the energetic and vivid Mother Carey. With Willison we also hear a brief selection of nauticalia – a particularly well characterised Captain Stratton’s Fancy included but Luxon shares space with chorus-only performances of The Skippers of St Ives and The Newquay Fisherman’s Song returning to extol life Over the Rolling Sea.
The Brannigan albums come from a sequence of EMI LPs and EPs; Folk Songs from Northumbria, Blaydon Races and other North Country Folk Songs, Sings the Songs of Britain, and Songs You Remember. I think one track, Blaydon Races, turns up on Griffin’s own 2012 Folk Songs of the British Isles compilation CD. The tracks with Moore and Lush were issued in the very early 1960s and they’re full of Brannigan’s resonant and avuncular charm, inimitable dialect and personable singing – Cushie Butterfield is a classic but it’s good to hear him in Linden Lea. The final two tracks return to the Climax Male Voice Choir ending, appropriately, with Time for us to go.

No texts, useful notes, good transfers.

Jonathan Woolf

Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924)
Songs of the Sea, Op.91 (1904)
Drake’s Drum [2:53]: Outward Bound [3:17]: Devon, O Devon [2:06]: Homeward Bound [6:02]: The Old Superb [3:16]
Frederick KEEL (1871-1954)
Salt Water Ballads: Port of Many Ships [2:06]: Trade Winds (1919) [2:21]: Mother Carey [1:40]
John IRELAND (1879-1962)
Sea Fever [2:57]
Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930)
Captain Stratton’s Fancy [1:54]
The Skippers of St Ives [3:18]
The Newquay Fisherman’s Song [5:56]
Over the Rolling Sea [3:22]
Benjamin Luxon (baritone)/David Willison (piano)/Climax Male Voice Choir/Edgar S. Kessell:
Cushie Butterfield (Trad. arr. Brannigan) [2:38]
Dance to thee Daddy (Trad. arr. Haysom) [1:54]
The Keel Row (Trad. arr. Haysom) [1:27]
Blaydon Races (Trad./Ridley arr. Warrington) [3:40]
Linden Lea (Vaughan Williams/Barnes) [2:28]
Bay of Biscay (Davey/Cherry arr. Tomlinson) [2:30]
Heart of Oak (Boyce/Garrick arr. Tomlinson) [2:10]
On the Road to Mandalay (Speaks/Kipling) [4:52]
The Miller of Dee (Trad. arr. Mackerras) [1:28]
The Vicar of Bray (Trad. arr. Mackerras) [3:36]
Lavender’s Blue (Trad. arr. Russell) [1:29]
Cullercoats Bay (Trad. arr. Robson) [2:06]
Owen Brannigan (bass): with various artists including Gerald Moore, Ernest Lush (piano): Pro Arte Orchestra/Hendon Grammar School Choir/Charles Mackerras
Sacramento (Rowley) [3:04]
Time for us to go (Redman) [2:41]
Climax Male Voice Choir



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
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
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger