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A New National Songbook

Hyperion   CDA67115

Record Box


Fairest Isle. A New National Songbook. (c) 2000 Hyperion Records Ltd.Researching the treasure trove of popular music from the past is under way by record companies. Here, for instance, is a truly delightful selection, mostly from established composers in London who during the 18th century served the theatre and pleasure garden.

Scattered amongst the well-known we find rarities, such as two Scottish songs in adorable settings by J C Bach [listen - track 12, 03:50 - 04:42]. Handel appears with a sweet and melancholy aria from the curiously-named The What d'ye Call it? But with tunes that stuck and are still known and sung today, return to their natural dimension puts the shine back. For instance, Purcell's Fairest Isle as intended by the composer in a specific context is glorious. This only goes to prove that such pops gain little from their freedom except butchery.

Two unknown Overtures typically incorporate a string of tunes, although the second overture - by Francesco Barsanti - is more vigorously worked in contrapuntal fashion.

Considerable pleasure can be expected from this well-researched and superbly-presented record of known and unknown pieces from our musical heritage.


Copyright © 10 May 2000 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK





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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Wednesday series of shorter CD reviews