COMPOSERS: etc,Ethel Smyth,Liza Lehmann,Maude Valerie White,Phyllis Tote,Rebecca Clarke
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: in Praise of Women
WORKS: Songs by Maude Valerie White, Liza Lehmann, Ethel Smyth, Rebecca Clarke, Phyllis Tote,
PERFORMER: Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor)Graham Johnson (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66709 DDD
COLLECTION: IN PRAISE OF WOMEN
Songs by Maude Valerie White, Liza Lehmann, Ethel Smyth, Rebecca Clarke, Phyllis Tote, etc
Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor)
Graham Johnson (piano)
Hyperion CDA 66709 DDD
78:55 mins £££ X781
This is an impressive and delightful disc which draws on the myriad talents of women songwriters since around the beginning of the last century. The booklet contains extensive, well-researched notes by Sophie Fuller, author of the forthcoming Pandora’s Guide to Women Composers. Rolfe Johnson’s poignant delivery of the Scottish Annie Harrison’s much-loved ballad ‘In the Gloaming’ shows exactly why this song reached its 50th edition by the 1890s and continued to be issued in countless arrangements until die middle of this century.
There are short groups of songs from Maude Valerie White-settings of Byron, Tennyson, Shelley (the magnificent ‘My Soul Is an Enchanted Boat”) and an absolute gem entitled ‘The Devout Lover’ to verses by Walter Pollock – and Liza Lehmann. The six Lehmann songs include the well known ‘Ah, Moon of My Delight’ and the Johnson and Johnson team luxuriate in the expansive and expressive lines. Lehmann’s Hilaire Belloc settings are witty and amusingly delivered.
In the two Amy Woodforde-Finden Indian Love Lyrics, ‘Till I Wake’ and ‘Pale Hands I Loved’, the lyrical honeyed tone of Rolfe Johnson’s tenor is put to the service of the reflective and passionate phrases to just the right degree. Ethel Smyth’s harmonically ambiguous Possession – dedicated to Emmeline Pankhurst – is given a powerful performance, as are Lutyens’s Auden setting and the two haunting Maconchy songs. This unusual and intriguing repertoire, performed so well, makes an exceptionally appealing recital. Elise McDougall