COMPOSERS: A Carter,Dale,Fraser-Simson,German etc,H Blake,Hely-Hutchinson,Howells,Lehmann,RodneyBennett,Williamson
LABELS: Just Accord
ALBUM TITLE: Classic Children’s Songs
WORKS: Songs by Hely-Hutchinson, Williamson, Lehmann, H Blake, Fraser-Simson, A Carter, Rodney Bennett, Howells, Dale, German etc
PERFORMER: Elizabeth Atherton (soprano), Roderick Williams (baritone), Iain Burnside (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: JUSCD 003
Any collection with ‘Children’ in the title always raises the question of whether the music is actually for children (as listeners and/or performers), about children or, most commonly, aimed at adults’ nostalgic memories of childhood. This generous offering of 35 ‘Classic Children’s Songs’ is a curious mixture. While many of the texts, ranging from Edward Lear to Spike Milligan, are aimed directly at the young, the vast majority of the settings are not likely to capture the attention of (today’s) children. At least, if there was to be any chance of my three-year-old wishing to listen again and again, Roderick Williams and Elizabeth Atherton needed to be much more inventive in drawing out the individuality of each song.
This is an enjoyable piece of nostalgia for adults then, with plenty of charm and some poignant moments, notably Richard Rodney Bennett’s ‘Sweet Isabell’, setting a poem by Marjory Fleming who died in 1811 at the age of just eight. Both singers are in fine voice, but they are no match for the classic 1941 version with ten-year-old Ann Stephens daring you not to hang on every word. Christopher Dingle