Albion Magazine

This disc is a tribute to the great baritone John Goss. Born in 1891, Goss was heavily involved in promoting and performing the music of several contemporary composers, including Warlock, Delius and Moeran, while also helping to resurrect English ballads. Here, baritone Giles Davies is accompanied by the Goss Male Quartet and pianist Steven Devine on songs that Goss would have sung (indeed, some of them were composed for him). The disc opens with three early English ballads. There is a wonderfully dreamy quality to the gorgeously-performed Three Ravens , but the Quartet’s exhuberant high spirits are in danger of brimming over into histrionics on Agincourt and Here’s a Health to His Majesty . A French ballad and three Elizabethan songs follow, and Davies excellently captures the feeling of melancholy in I die whenas I do not see her . The ensuing Lieder are also beautifully sung, especially Schubert’s Totengrabers Heimweh , in which singer and pianist build up a terrific sense of tension from the beginning, with Davies both meltingly tender and full of passion. It is, however, early twentieth-century English songs that are given the fullest representation on this disc. Davies’s love and knowledge of this repertoire shines through clearly in pieces such as Moeran’s Dream of Death (in which Davies achieves a particularly beautiful tone), the brilliantly-sung As ever I saw , and the rousing Captain Stratton’s Fancy , both by Warlock. The disc closes with five traditional ballads and sea-songs. The American folk-song Shenandoah –a Goss favorite ” is here given a lovely performance, with a delightful coda composed by Danny Gillingwater (who also wrote the arrangements of the early ballads). On Blow ye Winds, Heigh Ho! Davies demonstrates his aptitude for characterisation, and the quartet is superbly boisteous. The rather tinny recorded sound and piano do not do the performers justice. Nevertheless, the selection of songs is a very fine one, and the fact that the disc also contains detailed, interesting and well-written notes is a bonus.

—Em Marshall