Anthology of English Song 1530 - 1790

1530 - 1790

Label: Lyrita
Copyright: 2009 Wyastone Estate Limited.
Catalogue number: SRCD.2309
UPC/EAN: 5020926230928
Format: CD
Analogue / Digital recording: ADD
Number of discs: 2
Total playing time: 2 hours 33 mins
Price: £ 29.99 (+ postage & packing)

These recordings took place as part of a British Council-funded scheme to produce a series of recordings surveying British song from its earliest days to the 1970s. For whatever reason this Decca-engineered project never got past the era reflected in this anthology.
There will be stylistic shocks along the way. After all, performance practice in this repertoire has moved on – several times – over the last three decades. That said this is admirable and tasteful singing – not so tasteful that it lacks charm, fear, seduction, even a cheeky leer. Listen to the rough start of Byrd's Out of the Orient Skies. This is a song in which, incidentally, one can hear foreshadowings of Herbert Howells' King David. All the songs are sung with light-imbued clarion tone. Going by these results no pains or expense were spared in this Decca-coordinated endeavour. The songs are of a piece, being in the case of the first disc predominantly of a grave or melancholic beauty. The second disc spreads the range. Purcell's floridly rhetorical settings appear with surprisingly modern sounding instrumental accompaniment. This is not guaranteed to beguile Lyrita’s usual audience. However those who hanker after a golden age of British singing, before hints of the contrived and the precious began to invade will want this set.

Rob Barnett