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English Vocal Music

Vaughan Williams
Mass in G minor & choral songs

Laudibus cond. Mike Brewer

Delphian DCD34074

Vaughan Williams' Mass (1922) was composed in the wake of the rediscovery of the choral music of the English Madrigalists and took its inspiration fom the masses of Byrd.

A number of other contributions to the choral repertoire include several motets and a haunting set of Three Shakespeare Songs (1951).

A small point about the Notes; it would help if biographical information were separated from those about the actual works, and if the titles of the latter were highlighted in bold as well as just being italicised; it took repeated scanning to eventually confirm that there was nothing about the Shakespeare Songs and having to resort to Wikipedia!

The choir is of selected singers from the National Youth Choir of Great Britain under one of our leading choral conductors and the performances have a youthful fervour which is winning.

Recommended for a different perspective on Vaughan Williams.

Warlock, Howells, Howard & Roe
Tim Travers-Brown (counter-tenor) & Jeremy Filsell (piano)

Signum SICD161

No great fan of the English pastoral tradition, I approached this disc of 20th century British solo song with reservations, quickly dissipated by the fine committed performances in this excellent compilation.

There are eleven of the Renaissance-inspired songs of Peter Warlock, but I was grabbed more by the lesser known composers represented.

Michael Howard was a stalwart of the scene in mid-century, especially with his Renaissance Singers and development of a new system of choir training. His The Painted Rose (1951/73 for James Bowman) suits Tim Travers-Brown, who is on the staff of Trinity College of Music and is technically confident and free of the hooting which can affect some counter-tenors.

Betty Roe (b. 1930) is an all round "jobbing musician" (her own description of herself) who has done all sorts of music making and she continues in her "aim to entertain". Her beautiful song about Mary that was the Child's mother gives the disc its title.

Impeccably sung, played and recorded; warmly recommended

Peter Grahame Woolf