COMPOSERS: Anonymous,et al,Grainger,Macleod,Molloy,Vaughan Williams
WORKS: Traditional songs
PERFORMER: Choir of New College, Oxford/ Edward Higginbottom
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-19065-2
The Choir of New College, Oxford, has been doing top-selling business with ‘concept’ albums, and Early One Morning is the latest example. Classic folksong arrangements by Vaughan Williams, Grainger, Bairstow and Heathcote Statham merge seamlessly with modern versions by Gordon Jacob, the choir’s director Edward Higginbottom, and a racy ‘O no John!’ by Louis Halsey.
The Oxford choir’s tone agreeably combines the clarity of King’s, Cambridge, with the warmer, ‘continental’ sound of neighbouring St John’s; for all the simplicity of the original folksongs, many of these arrangements (all unaccompanied) require virtuoso control and are effortlessly delivered. Scottish folk will surely forgive the unintentional hilarity of the dialect words in ‘The Bonny Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond’ being pronounced in impeccable English cathedral cherub style. From this basket of cherries I would pull out ‘Linden Lea’, a reminder of the idiomatic mastery of Vaughan Williams, to whom, with Cecil Sharp and Percy Grainger, we are all indebted for collecting and preserving so many of these folksongs. Graeme Kay