Quilter: The Arnold Book of Old Songs; Three Songs from ‘Love at the Inn’

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ALBUM TITLE: Quilter – songs
WORKS: The Arnold Book of Old Songs; Three Songs from ‘Love at the Inn’
PERFORMER: Amanda Pitt (soprano), Joanne Thomas (mezzo), Philip Langridge (tenor), David Wilson-Johnson (baritone), David Owen Norris (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.557495
The 11th volume of the invaluable Naxos English Song Series investigates the delicate alchemy conjured by Roger Quilter in his arrangements of what he called the ‘old songs’ of the British Isles, well known to every Edwardian drawing room.


Twenty of this complete collection of 36 songs are world premiere recordings. I particularly enjoyed the gentle barcarolle accompanying Quilter’s duet version of ‘Greensleeves’, beautifully played by that doyen of Quilter’s piano music, David Owen Norris. Philip Langridge really sells ‘The Rose of Tralee’ with his fervent engagement with its intimate confiding. And Amanda Pitt captures the fragility of innocence in the tiny Ophelia fragment, ‘Tis St Valentine’s Day’.


At times, Pitt’s soprano can be over-sturdy and stentorian, and David Wilson-Johnson’s baritone over-ponderous. While the voices will bring a certain apt period flavour to the ear of the aficionado, I do wonder if they will make many new converts to this repertoire. Hilary Finch