The now out-moded practice of an evening's gathering of family and friends
around the drawing-room piano when members contributed their particular
party-piece is something I have always longed for again - it brings back
memories of such much loved melodies as 'Down Vauxhall Way', 'Big Lady Moon',
'The New Umbrella' as well as the unashamedly sentimental 'Three Fishers'
and even 'Dolly Gray' - now only found in boxes of tattered sheet-music in
the back of second-hand bookshops.
With its apt title, this evocative disc from Haining Records goes a long
way to recreating these lost evenings. There is sentiment here - but nothing
of sentimentality. Handel (the most popular 'Art Thou Troubled' and the Minuet
from 'Berenice', the latter to English words by Clifford Bax) sits easily
with Martin Shaw, Thiman, Armstrong Gibbs, and Rowley - and the magic of
Head's 'Little Ships of Arcady' and Ireland's little known 'the Ferry', the
whimsical 'Second Minuet' and 'Serenade to a Beautiful Day' provide just
that touch of 'pop' - and the songs are sung with unaffected charm by the
Edinburgh mezzo Joan Busby, accompanied by John Grundy. If the sound is slightly
'boxy' no great matter, - just imagine the candle-light, the warm fire, and
hot buttered crumpets to come.