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BILL NEWMAN enthuses over new folk song settings

ASV    CD WHL2118

Record Box


Love's Lore. Copyright (c) 1999 ASV Ltd.A release that came into being after considerable researches into our heritage by the highly-gifted Stella Dickinson, all arranged superbly by the inspirational Paul Hart to provide new settings for chamber ensemble. If you think it is a jazzed-up concoction aimed at the pop market, you would be wrong. This is music-making for all occasions, centred around Stella's wonderful range of timbres and instrumental technique, and highlighting the supportive gifts of members of Capital Virtuosi (Leader Rita Manning, Philippa Ibbotson & Jane Murdoch, violins, Bill Hawkes, viola, James Potter & Nick Cooper, cellos, Helen Tunstall, harp and Christopher Lawrence, double bass), all performers singing their multi-coloured phrases in the best classical chamber traditions. I'll Give my Love an Apple, with its drone beginning, presents them in turn. [Listen - track 1, 00:00 - 01:00.] I am reminded of the remote sadness of Vaughan Williams, and perhaps Copland ('Quiet City') with long held notes on the octave. The Lark in the Clear Air has RVW in mind too ('On Wenlock Edge', 'The Lark Ascending') with shimmering strings complementing the oboist's soaring phrases and trills. Note also the harpist's glissandi creating arabesques with her colleagues, and the subtle use of 'half-melodies'. The Broom of Cowdenknowes is a true lament, bare string chords with oboe above conjuring up the strangeness of landscape. The Oak and the Ash, a picture of home sickness, has the soloist presenting the girl's brave face for the period ahead, but Up the Raw, with viola/harp setting the pace, when speeded up might be mistaken for Rimsky-Korsakov's 'Dance of the Tumblers'! It is a Geordie dandling song, but Sair Fyeld Hinny - a Geordie lament, has legato and plucked cello tones merging with cor anglais, ending in a foreign key. Early One Morning (harp/then oboe) has a delightful intro before presenting the full tune, then extemporises bits and pieces that break off and come back again. Shule Agra translates as 'My Johnny He Has Gone For A Soldier' and balances oboe and strings in Finzi-like fashion, while My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose pirouettes cleverly between cor anglais and cello. Women of Ireland has an age-old quality, cor anglais taking the melody, with a mini-cadenza centre piece for harp, but the fusion of 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring' and Annie Laurie (oboe/2 violas/harp) is really quite astute. [Listen - track 11, 00:00 - 01:00.] The Keel Row, with stilted rhythms/humorous asides, invites comparisons with Bach and Stravinsky ('Apollon musagète') in its wayward convolutions, but Sau Gan (A Welsh Lullaby) is more straightforward, with some delightful pre-coda figurations, and I never realized that Blow the Wind Southerly and the swaying rhythms of Satie's 'Gymnopédies' fitted like a glove! Its overall lilt connects quite appropriately with Folk Song from Suffolk, leading on to the final item - Scarborough Fair, which affords a stream of virtuoso possibilities for oboe, violins, viola and harp. [Listen - track 16, 02:00 - 02:51.] With apologies to Paul Hart for my suggested musical derivations, this is a peach of a disc, and John Boyden's marvellous recording makes it an immediate candidate for air play.


Copyright © 17 May 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, Middlesex, UK







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