…There are some very familiar songs in this collection and I'm delighted that there are good notes by Valerie Langfield, author of "Roger Quilter - His Life and Music", Boydell Press. She points out that the songs on this disc span more than fifty years and show Quilter in all his moods - light, exuberant, ephemeral, narrative, pensive, but always melodic. Few composers, especially songsmiths, can claim to have written works that have remained in print since they were first published more than a hundred years ago. Roger Quilter is one such, though the number of his songs still in print is regrettably small. It is also excellent that the words to the songs are printed here alongside biographies of the three artists. The first eleven songs are shared between the soprano and tenor and make for a very English experience. The songs float and are ideal for the warm sunny day during which I auditioned this record.
Ben Jonson's "Drink to me only with thine eyes" opens "The Arnold Book of Old Songs". I warm to Nathan Vale's approach with sympathetic and melodic accompaniment by Adrian Farmer… Its words are attributed to an Irish poet named John Irvine (1903-1964) who was born in Belfast and who published several collections of poems. He edited "The Flowering Branch", An Anthology of Irish Poetry Past and Present. It was fascinating to hear this very well-known song with these words, finely sung by Vale. Not to be outdone, de Rothschild gives a very spirited rendition of "Over the mountains". It's also good to hear the stirring "Barbara Allen" and Robert Burn's "Ca the Yowes", the latter sung very richly by Vale who some will prefer to a tenor like Peter Pears.
Many of these songs are in the musical DNA of a certain generation of music-lovers and evoke a world that Quilter must have hoped would return after the war. They undoubtedly strike a chord at present. The whole collection is a rich treasury and very well put together. I found it entrancing… The inspired "I Arise from Dreams of Thee", with words by Shelley from "The Indian Serenade", is very poignant and apt to end this collection with an air of pervasive sadness:
"The Nightingale's complaint,
It dies upon her heart; —
As I must on thine,
Oh, belovèd as thou art!"
I found this CD very satisfying and would commend it to all lovers of English folk music. The singing and piano playing are all of a piece and very well recorded and engineered. This inspires me to hope to explore the first two CDs in this series and also Roger Quilter.
Music Web International – Classical Review