Born in London and still living there, Betty Roe among her many compositions, has concentrated on songs. The 19 songs on this recording were chosen from a total of three hundred. The fact that not everything has changed since the time of the Baroque is very clear. Roe always lets the chosen text flow into the composition. This means that she creates compositions aligned to the subjects of her predefined texts and also uses unusual subjects for her songs.
The songs of the present collection are composed for two sopranos, a tenor and a baritone, all with piano and some also with recorder, violin or horn. For example, the flute gives the three Celtic songs their own color, which is also applied in the three different textural templates for ‘Cradle Song’, ‘Boy’s Song’ and ‘The Fiddler of Dooney’. Another multi-layered threesome is the ‘Hardy Conversations’, in which a woman wants to change her husband, a farmer plans his burial, and another woman cares for her father. Around the theme of ‘Garden and Nature’ several songs are arranged, for example the witty song of the hopeful gardener, who is not up to the task. The baritone Stephen Varcoe makes this a wonderfully humorous little piece of work.
Overall, the program could have been more charming. Annemarie Sheridan, soprano, the tenor Robin Tritschler, and the second soprano Sarah Leonard are able to adequately present their contributions and are solidly supported by the good pianist Nigel Foster. Emma Murphy is able to elicit sound from the recorder, the hornist Daniel Beer gives the song “The Silver Hound” the appropriate metallic sound with his horn. In the two Garden Songs, Madeleine Mitchell revives the action with the typical dancer sound of the fiddle.
Due to the recording being slightly dry, the two sopranos, especially, tend to be a little on the harsh side.