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John Jeffreys – 26 English Songs
James Gilchrist – tenor / Anna Tilbrook - piano

Awake thee, my Bessy;  The Song of Love;  Under the leaves green;  She is all so slight;  Brown is my Love;  Three roses;  Passing by;  Horror follows horror;  SevernMeadows;  From Omiecourt;  The Falcon; I am the gilly of Christ;  Drop, drop slow tears;  O my dere heart;  Corpus Christi;  Full fathom five; When that I was;  O mistress mine;  Black Stitchel;  The Far Country;  All night under the moon; The Salley Gardens;  Little trotty wagtail;  The Whim;  She is ever for the new;  Jillian of Berry  

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The cover photograph on this CD shows a tranquil river flowing through green countryside with a glimpse of what look like the Malvern Hills in the background, and it is a perfect match to the mood of this collection of charming English songs. 

But to quote a proverb “still waters run deep”, and beneath the calm surface there is a wealth of absorbing detail to be discovered.  Jeffreys is clearly a composer with a wide knowledge of English poetry ranging from the standard to the obscure, and he has a real knack of selecting words which will work well with music, and he is not afraid to choose ones which are already well known in the setting of another composer – and present a completely different and equally satisfying result. 

James Gilchrist and Anna Tilbrook treat the songs with the respect they deserve, and whilst it is clear that they are equal partners in the enterprise, the piano always complements the singer and every single word is clear.   

This is English song writing at its bucolic best, “with the breath of young roses on the air” and the picture conjured up by Little trotty wagtail waddling in the mud of the pigsty is quite irresistible. I particularly liked the three Shakespeare settings; shedding new light on familiar texts.  Perfect music to relax to at the end of the day. 

Serena Fenwick