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Dawson made his first recording on wax cylinders in 1904, and he continued to release songs for EMI and HMV until 1958. A recent biography estimates that he issued in excess of 1,500 recordings. By the Second World War his records sales exceeded twelve million.

Hitherto I'd never heard the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra; evidently my loss -- in this repertoire they hardly miss a trick. David Lloyd Jones, whose work I knew with Opera North, Leeds (1977-1990), is clearly in his element throughout The Floral Dance CD recital.

Selecting 57-year-old Australian operatic baritone Gregory Yurisich as a latter-day interpreter of the popular Dawson repertory proves excellent casting. While Yurisich has a less clipped style of delivery, the two bright, emphatic voices have much in common. Indeed Melba's artist assumes sufficient of the Dawson verve, vivacity, optimism, nostalgia and exuberant brio to reawaken memories of The Floral Dance maestro himself.

After many years of Vivaldi, Beethoven, Mahler, John Coltrane, Schnittke, Miles Davis (et al), I derived great enjoyment in revisiting Wandering the King's Highway, I'll Walk Beside you, Old Father Thames, Drake's Drum, On the Road to Mandalay and the lament, O My Warriors [listen -- track 22, 2:20-3:30] from Sir Edward Elgar's cantata Caractacus (1898) dedicated to HM Queen Victoria.

I'm convinced you'll also discover a generous earful of personal favourites.

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Copyright © 9 February 2008 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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