American Record Guide

This is the fourth and last in a series of discs devoted to English art song and performed by members of the English Poetry and Song Society. This recording was made at a concert given in May 2003. Because of the ad hoc nature of the enterprise, the sound—while certainly acceptable—is not of studio quality. Several quartets are heard here, and the balance between the voices isn’t always ideal. Nevertheless the performances are worth preserving. All of the soloists sound like first-rate amateur singers; none has a particularly striking timbre. The exception is Ian Partridge, a singer who has made many recordings. His voice has (as a voice teacher of mine used to say) “more glamor” than the others. The diction of all is excellent—I didn’t need to consult the booklet very often to understand what was sung.

Some of the composers represented include Ivor Gurney, Ernest J Moeran, and Sulyen Caradon, setting texts by such poets as James Joyce, Seamus O’Sullivan, Walter De la Mare, Thomas Hardy, and WB Yeats.

Many of these songs are little known gems that aren’t heard on these shores very often, if at all. The Gurney songs, in particular, show color and imagination, very much in line with the tradition of other well-known British song composers such as Finzi and Vaughan Williams. Notes and texts.

—David Reynolds