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A well-chosen anthology

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'A Century of English Song' -

'Veira is particularly good ...'

A Century of English Song, Volume 2. © 1999 Somm Recordings

Somm's A Century of English Song series is a well-chosen anthology of 20th-century English art song; it highlights the best from the repertoire but at the same time avoids works which have been widely recorded. The present discs feature Parry, Stanford and Somervell (vol 2) and Quilter, Gurney and Warlock (vol 3). Parry is represented by seven songs from the twelve volumes of English Lyrics, including 'From a city window' [listen -- volume 2 track 2, 0:48-1:51], arguably his finest song, and the beautiful love-song, 'Goodnight'. 'Crabbed Age and Youth' is a poem that almost defies musical setting, but Parry manages to tame its anti-lyrical mood, ending with one of the most delicious codas he ever invented.

Both Somervell and Stanford are represented by substantial vocal works, Stanford by An Irish Idyll (1901), which includes the popular 'The fairy lough' and the moving antiphon, 'A broken song' [listen -- volume 2 track 28, 2:00-3:16], Somervell by his ground-breaking songcycle, A Shropshire Lad (1904) [listen -- volume 2, track 13, 1:30-2:26]. Somervell -- a pupil of both Parry and Stanford -- is cruelly neglected today, and this selection, which includes the subtly-constructed 'Young love lies sleeping' and the memorable lullaby, 'Shepherd's cradle-song', will do something to make amends.

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Copyright © 4 September 2002 Trevor Hold, Peterborough, UK


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