Her Song

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: E Gritton & Sanders,Elgar,Ireland,Parry
LABELS: Dutton
WORKS: Orchestral Songs and Arias by Elgar, Ireland, Parry, E Gritton & Sanders
PERFORMER: Susan Gritton (soprano); BBC Concert Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins
CATALOGUE NO: CDLX 7228

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An apt title, given that one item – Eric Gritton’s ‘O Stay, Madonna!’ – was composed by the soprano’s grandfather and orchestrated by her father. More than half the programme, incidentally, consists of first recordings, at least in the versions performed.

Throughout Gritton is musically purposeful and addresses words intelligently, though occasionally a slightly more lavish tone is ideally required, while Martyn Brabbins and the BBC players do a fine job.

The content is of variable interest beyond the world of English music fanatics. Several of the Elgar songs here, though characteristic, don’t represent him at his best, with indifferent words evoking indifferent music. Exceptions must be made, though, for ‘Pleading’, ‘The Wind at Dawn’, which has a real Sea-Pictures-like sweep in its refulgent orchestral accompaniment, and for the three items from the brief Op. 59 Song Cycle that the composer never got round to giving a more distinctive title. The folk-like song from the incidental music to Grania and Diarmid is also exquisite, and exquisitely sung.

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Graham Parlett’s orchestrations of some John Ireland songs, though expertly done, seem to me to extend them beyond their natural limits. The one operatic solo, an extract from Parry’s Guenever, is a fairly average piece of English Wagnerism. But the best items are well worth having. George Hall