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LIBERTY TREE - American Music 1776 -1861 The Boston Camerata Joel Cohen ERATO 3984-21668-2 [58:32]  


A curio this album; it gives us a fascinating glimpse of American music from the period of the founding of the Republic and the Civil War. We have heard so many Hollywood scores for screenplays based on characters and events of this period that it is refreshing to have this album of the genuine music from that period. Here are partsongs, marches, anthems, jigs and ballads which were all part of the everyday life in villages and towns during the early part of the country’s existence.

Many of the songs have not been heard in generations, and have been transcribed and edited specially for this recording from original sources. There are a number of purely instrumental tracks and the musical instruments employed are the kind that were in use a century and a half ago and they are palpably softer and more rounded than their modern counterparts. There are some surprises for British ears. The tune for the National Anthem is used here for an early feminist text, "Rights of Women", with the opening words, "God save each female’s rights!" The familiar Greensleeves tune is used as a setting for a patriotic ballad called "Jefferson and Liberty", celebrating freedom from tyranny and US independence. We also have the original "Yankee Doodle" or "The Washington March" as it was otherwise known and it may come as a surprise to hear its saucy words! The album also includes some intriguing early European music that has lain dormant in old American songbooks - material from John Dowland and Pierre Guédron for example. The range of songs is wide from the saucy to the spooky and the collection of 26 numbers closes appropriately with a song called "Ode On Science" which celebrates the thrusting enterprise of the new America freed of the British yoke (yet it is interesting to note the inclusion of one ballad, "Brave Wolfe" which celebrates the victory of the British under General Wolfe before Quebec.) The young members of Boston Camerata play and sing with enthusiasm and conviction and they are to be heartily congratulated on their enterprise.

Ian Lace

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