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Brian Blyth Daubney

Anna Dennis – soprano / William Berger - baritone / John Talbot - piano

British Music Society   – BMSCD433

Recorded May/June 2006 – 1 CD – 79 minutes

30 Songs.   Settings of Poems by:   A E Housman, Randall Swingler , Thomas Campion, Theodora Goss, John Alan Davis, Hartley Coleridge, Charlotte Mew, Robert Burns, John Betjeman, John Keats, Kathleen Raine , William Barnes, W B Yeats, Thomas Hardy and Charlotte Bronte

Daubney is a prolific song writer drawing his inspiration from a wide spectrum of sources.   This CD presents a selection of 30 pieces, principally written in the last 15 years and recorded for the first time, mixing well known poems with rarities.   Here we find pieces such as Robert Burns' John Anderson, my Jo , W B Yeats' Lake Isle of Innisfree and Thomas Hardy's Lyon esse all familiar in other settings, interspersed with works by Theodora Goss and John Alan Davis neither of whose poems have previously been set to music.

His approach seems to be essentially a straight forward one, with the piano part never intruding over the voice.   He favours long drawn out notes as an ending, and generally allows the subject matter and meter of the verse to guide him – notable examples being Goss's Dirge for a Lady “Lay her in lavender, all that is left of her” and Davis' Resurrection Spiritual “Hang on to the resurrection and shout hip, hip, hurray” where the natural rhythm of the words is a clear starting point for the melody.

John Talbot is the able pianist throughout and accompanies two young singers.   Soprano Anna Dennis has a voice of transparent clarity who floats some beautiful high notes, most notable in John Anderson .   The baritone William Berger has equal clarity of diction, an attractive warmth of tone, and the ability to colour and characterise each song.   I particularly liked A Rose for Lidice , set to a poem by Randall Swingle , whose work I am not familiar with, which seemed to be the one instance where Daubney's setting really gets under the skin of the piece and produce a song that is truly moving in its lament for the appalling fate of that Czech village.  

Serena Fenwick

© Peter Grahame Woolf