Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|David Stout, George Mosley, Omar Ebrahim|
NMC Songbook [Box Set]
Genres: Pop, Classical
Listen to Samples
A voice teacher and early music fan
George Peabody | Planet Earth | 05/11/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THIS UNIQUE COLLECTION IS WORTHY OF INSPECTION AND REFLECTION!
To mark its twentieth anniversary in 2009 NMC recordings commissioned this SONGBOOK. Nearly 100 composers, ranging from the country's most highly regarded figures to the younger generation of emerging talents, have each written a song, loosely themed on 'Britain' and scored for single voice or duet and a range of accompanying instruments. The box set includes an excellent booklet with detailed information and the words to all the songs.
The composers set the text, and in all they encompass a vast array of subjects, from familiar poems by Byron and Blake through to a list of the Kings and Queens of England, excerpts from a National Trust brochure, chants from the Leyton Orient terraces, a whiskey recipe, and a wild rant about road rage.
However, this is more than a collage of different composers, these recordings are testimony to the breadth and depth of British singing, and the diversity of emerging talent; to the ensemble values in British music making, with such daunting technical challenges being overcome at speed; above all, to the open-mindedness within that music making, where singers and instrumentalists were more than willing to have a go, obviously curious and maybe at times concerned as to how some of this music would resolve in its final implementation.
In fact, the first thing that impressed me upon listening to this all for several days (4 discs-each about 77 minutes), was the excellence of all the singers who performed this VERY difficult and MOST unusual music. Some of the pieces demanded fantasticly difficult leaps, slides that were pitched and non-pitched, melodic combinations that defied remembering and all of that mixed in with some incredible accompaniments. There was not one time that I felt that the singer could not render the required composition; I became impressed as I heard selection after selection and singer after singer creating a rounded-out finished performance.
However, that is not to say that I enjoyed all of them equally, but at this point in my listening experience, it's too soon for me to be any kind of critic as to what composer will be remembered from this exposure.
In all there are 22 singers; some of the most notable are: Eliz.Atherton, Claire Booth(sopranos); Lore Lixenberg, Jean Rigby(Mezzo sop.), James Bowman, Michael Chance, Andrew Watts(countertenors), Andrew Kennedy, Daniel Norman(tenors) and George Mosley, Roderick Williams(baritones).
Since there are over one hundred composers I'll list those who I think are somewhat known: Anthony Powers, Thomas Morely, Tarik O'Regan, Roderick Williams, Jonathan Harvey, Judith Weir, Colin Matthews, Alexander Goehr.
Some of the accompanying instruments and instrumentalists are: Andrew Ball, Iain Burnside, Andrew Plant (piano); Lucy Wakeford (harp), Jane Chapman (harpsichord), Owen Gunnell (percussion) and Antoniis Hatzinikolaou (guitar).
I think that a quote from Stephen Graham, Musical Criticism.com tends to place the importance of this music in perspective: "This is the kind of release that repays investment time and time again; in years to come, when certain composers have faded, and certain others have emerged, 'The NMC Songbook' will remain as a vital document of song composition at a particularly interesting point of development for British music, a point in which the songbook itself will have played no little part."
Just a caution for the would-be listener: to my thinking this music requires constant attention and concentration upon first hearing, at least it does for me, so it's not something to just relax and enjoy. I am hopeful that at some point I will be able to just sit back and accept easily some of these selections, but I have to say that a few of them are only somewhat attractive because the singers make them so! Perhaps many of you will embrace all of it immediately."