Parry, Ireland, Elgar, Quilter, Bridge, Warlock, Bax, Holst, Fraser-Simson & Lehmann

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bax,Bridge,Elgar,Fraser-Simson & Lehmann,Holst,Ireland,Parry,Quilter,Warlock
LABELS: ASV Gold
ALBUM TITLE: My Own Country
WORKS: Songs by Parry, Ireland, Elgar, Quilter, Bridge, Warlock, Bax, Holst, Fraser-Simson & Lehmann
PERFORMER: Felicity Lott (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: GLD 4003
Felicity Lott and Graham Johnson attempt more than a well-balanced recital here. By grouping the songs into seven categories, they aim to identify common aspects of ‘Englishness’ in word-setting. Apart from a slight surprise at the absence of Finzi (one of the most poetic native setters of English verse), I think the plan is generally successful – though after the Warlock-Ireland-Quilter sequence in ‘Country Scenes’ one may feel the need of a little Stravinsky to counteract all that harmonic sweetness. But the ordering can also be thought-provoking. The Elgar and Quilter invocations to music may be different in musical character, but they do have something in common: a kind of restrained rapture perhaps? You see, try putting words to these feelings and you end up with fluffy abstractions. Better just enjoy the results, and the singing and playing are more than good enough for that. Felicity Lott’s sensitivity both to musical line and the sound and meaning of the words is always winning, and Graham Johnson is at his sensitive best. A pity, then, that the piano sounds so recessed in the recording – it’s liveable with, but far from ideal. Stephen Johnson

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