This anthology entitled “Lads of love and sorrow” is filled with pleasing, tranquil settings in the respected tradition of English song. They are intelligently grouped by subject: love, war sorrow etc, leading the listener through a range of emotions.
J R Williamson is clearly drawn to the perpetual melancholy of A E Housman’s style, and has chosen a number of his less familiar poems. I particularly enjoyed Oh, is it the jar of nations with its persistent menacing drum beat in the piano part, and the fast moving The new mistress well spiced with irony.
The group of songs in the section headed “Love”, drawing on the works of Byron and Coleridge are early works, but She walks with beauty already displays a clear appreciation of the marriage of words and music that makes a song more than the sum of these two elements.
The programme ends with two settings of two poems by Siegfried Sassoon, which are very fine indeed, with the reality of war laid open before us with stark truthfulness in I stood with the dead. Baritone Mark Rowlinson seems to lack the flexibility that some of these songs demand, but gives a generally good, if not very expressive account of them. The accompaniments are varied and skilful, and are played most sympathetically by David Jones. Overall, an interesting and worthwhile recording, well presented with full texts and notes.
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