Collection: The Street Songs

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Glasser & Glennie,Horne,Klatzow,Martland,Van Dijk
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Works by Martland, Klatzow, van Dijk, Horne, Glasser & Glennie
PERFORMER: Evelyn Glennie (percussion) The King’s Singers
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 63175 2

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This album uses the Englishman Steve Martland’s Street Songs as a framework around which to construct a sequence of pieces by five other composers, three of them South-African-born. I’d have thought that Martland’s abrasive, politicised approach would have made the King’s Singers anathema to him; their familiar, well-upholstered sound-world is redolent of the privileged background from which this sextet sprang, though its membership today is not exclusively Oxbridge.

Whatever the case, his four songs contain much imaginative – and, for their composer, uncharacteristic – writing for voices and the marimba of Evelyn Glennie. Though the performance of one of them – ‘Oranges and Lemons’, incorporating the well-known tune – suggests a lingering culture clash unconvincingly unresolved, the King’s Singers’ deployment of African folk idioms is remarkably assured. Peter Klatzow’s rather Brittenesque cycle Return of the Moon, also for voices and marimba, and Peter Louis van Dijk’s in parts more adventurous Horizons both evoke bushman traditions.

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The inventive invocations of Johannesburg in Stanley Glasser’s cycle Lalela Zulu, are conveyed with relish. Solo percussion pieces by David Horne and Glennie herself (neither meriting one of the booklet’s fancily presented notes; texts and full translations for the vocal pieces would have been appropriate, too) make welcome contrasts. An entertaining and well-recorded disc. Keith Potter