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In praise of woman [CD]

Anthony Rolfe Johnson , Graham Johnson , Various , None Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 6.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Conductor: None
  • Composer: Various
  • Audio CD (21 May 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B00026W65Y
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 232,683 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. My Mother - Miss LH Of Liverpool
2. Juanita - Caroline Norton
3. Orpheus - Virginia Gabriel
4. In the Gloaming - Annie Fortescue Harrison
5. The Throstle - Maude Valerie White
6. My Soul Is An Enchanted Boat - Maude Valerie White
7. The Devout Lover - Maude Valerie White
8. So We'll Go No More A-roving - Maude Valerie White
9. Slave Song - Various Composers
10. A Widow Bird Sate Mourning - Liza Lehmann
11. Ah, Moon of My Delight - Liza Lehmann
12. The Lily Of A Day - Liza Lehmann
13. Thoughts Have Wings - Liza Lehmann
14. Henry King - Liza Lehmann
15. Charles Augustus Fortescue - Liza Lehmann
16. Till I Wake - Amy Woodforde-Finden
17. Kashmiri Song ('Pale hands I loved') - Amy Woodforde-Finden
18. Possession - Ethel Smyth
19. The Aspidistra - Rebecca Clarke
20. Shy One - Rebecca Clarke
See all 27 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply astonishing 26 Feb 2006
Format:Audio CD
Whatever you do, don't miss out on this mid-price re-issue on Hyperion's "budget" Helios label. As well as being a moving and revelatory historical document, it is a collection of some of the finest art songs written in Britain over the past 150 years. The fact that all of them were written by female composers gives the disc a fascinating feminist subtext, making it quietly subversive in its own way: why isn't this music better known? Added to all of that, Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Graham Johnson put their heart and soul into these performances, along with their usual impeccable technique.
Graham Johnson's programme notes are fascinating as always, with some interesting thoughts as to why female composers in the nineteenth and early twentieth century turned so much of their attention to songs with piano rather than larger-scale instrumental works (a combination of financial necessity with the difficulty in access for women of this era to the specialist education required for orchestral composition).
The songs themselves are notable both for their variety and their astonishingly high quality for largely unknown repertory: everything from the touching simplicity of 18th-century Miss LH of Liverpool's "My Mother" through to Phyllis Tate's sombre and thoroughly modern "Epitaph". Highlights along the way include Maude Valerie White's complex yet ethereal "My Soul is an Enchanted Boat", Teresa De Riego's haunting "Slave Song", six very varied but consistently masterly songs by Liza Lehmann, and two delightfully humorous recent songs by Madeleine Dring. There is also the wonderfully tongue-in-cheek title song, "In Praise of Woman" by Elizabeth Poston; and what for me is the absolute highlight, Elisabeth Lutyen's darkly moving setting of W.H.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 15 composers, 27 songs: imaginative anthology of songs by female English composers 30 Dec 2012
By G.C. - Published on
Format:Audio CD
This collection of 27 songs by female English composers is a very imaginative compendium, ranging historically from the 1st decade of the 19th century to about 1948 or so. The composers and their respective songs are as follows:

1. Miss L.H. of Liverpool: "My Mother"
2. Caroline Norton: "Juanita"
3. Virginia Gabriel,: "Orpheus"
4. Annie Fortescue Harrison: "In the gloaming"
5. Maude Valérie White: (a) "The Throstle", (b) "My soul is an enchanted boat", (c) "The Devout Lover", (d) "So we'll go no more a-roving"
6. Teresa del Riego: "Slave Song"
7. Liza Lehmann: (a) "A widow bird sate mourning", (b) "Ah, moon of my delight, (c) "The Lily of a Day", (d) "Thoughts have wings", (e) "Henry King", (f) "Charles Augustus Fortescue"
8. Amy Woodforde-Finden: "Four Indian Love Lyrics", (a) "Till I wake", (b) "Kashmiri Song (Pale hands I loved beside the Shalimar)"
9. Ethyl Smyth: "Possession"
10. Rebecca Clarke: (a) "The Aspidistra", (b) "Shy One"
11. Elizabeth Poston: "In Praise of Woman"
12. Elisabeth Lutyens: "As I walked out one evening"
13. Elizabeth Maconchy: (a) "Have you seen but a bright lily grow?" (b) "Meditation for his Mistress"
14. Madeleine Dring: (a) "Crabbed age and youth", (b) "To the Virgins, to make much of Time"
15. Phyllis Tate: "Epitaph"

Through the 19th century, women unfortunately did not have the opportunities to pursue careers as composers to anywhere near the extent that men did, but they did what they could, composing songs and publishing where possible. This perhaps here reflects in the earliest works having that "parlour" feel, written for home performance and not necessarily for the concert hall. The ice began to crack with the transition from the 19th to the 20th centuries, as composers like Ethyl Smyth blazed trails for women composers that later composers like Lutyens and Maconchy filled. The latter, in particular, composed quite specifically songs for concert hall performance, away from the parlor. With a composer like Dring, popular music influences of her time are present in her settings of Elizabethan-era poetry, reflecting perhaps her work in London's West End.

Anthony Rolfe Johnson sings well throughout the album, with Graham Johnson his usual stalwart self as accompanist. The liner notes are by Sophie Fuller rather than Johnson, and Fuller does a good job in giving quick summaries of each composer and song, no small feat given that 15 composers and 27 songs have to be covered.

This is definitely a worthwhile journey into the side roads of art song, for those with a taste for exploring beyond standard lieder composers.
4.0 out of 5 stars A gamble that really paid off! 21 Nov 2013
By Limey - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I purchased this album partly on speculation, because I had been so impressed by three other albums featuring female composers which I recently purchased and reviewed on Amazon (“Women at an Exposition”, “Mots d’Amour: Songs by Cécile Chaminade”, and “Amy Beach: Songs”). As with the other three, this album certainly did not disappoint me and my gamble paid off handsomely. I must admit, I had fiddled the odds a little, since I knew in advance that (like the other three albums), it is dominated by art songs (for which I have a passion) and several of the songs and composers were well known and successful. But there was a sufficient number of songs and composers not known or little-known to me to provide some flavor of a gamble. There are 27 songs, all composed by English women and they cover a longer time-span than the other three albums (the album title states 150 years, but this is only a rough estimate). They are mostly mid- to late-Victorian or Edwardian, but at least one is believed to go back to the early part of the nineteenth century and many more were composed during and after the First World War (perhaps even as late as the 1960s). Nevertheless, it is interesting and surprising that, across this wide expanse of time, the style of the songs is typically very similar to that of the other three albums: mostly beautiful art songs, with a few humorous pieces thrown in, using lyrics based on well-known poets (Shakespeare, Tennyson, Shelley, Byron, Ben Jonson, Hilaire Belloc, W.B. Yeats, W.H. Auden, Herrick and Sir Walter Raleigh) and various more humble writers. My favorite song by a long way is “Kashmiri Song”, composed by Amy Woodforde-Finden, which apparently has been enormously popular. It can be noted, as a nice historical footnote, that the delightful words to the song were written by a now-obscure poet ostensibly named Laurence Hope. In fact, it turns out that this was really a ‘nom de plume’ for a certain Adela Florence Nicolson, adopted possibly because many of her works were a trifle too ‘risqué’ for a woman by the standards of the day (early 1900s)! Other memorable songs, in their own different ways, are “Juanita” (very lively), “Orpheus” (a good musical rendering of Shakespeare’s words), the four tracks by Maude Valerié White (especially the animated “Throstle”, from Tennyson’s poem, and the magnificent musical interpretation of Byron’s poem “So we’ll go no more a-roving”), Teresa del Riego’s “Slave Song” (which expresses perfectly the feeling of homesickness and the sadness of a life lost), the six tracks by Liza Lehmann (including two well-known humorous ones) and the two by Elizabeth Maconchy (interpretations of poems by Ben Jonson and Herrick). I will resist the temptation to go on, and mention only two more. “Epitaph”, composed by Phyllis Tate and published in 1948, is appropriately the last track on the album. Its profoundly sad music mirrors perfectly the rueful and poignant words of Sir Walter Raleigh, reportedly written on the eve of his execution. The eponymous “In Praise of Woman” is somewhat prosaic and seems to have been chosen more because it was used as the title for the album’s collection than for its intrinsic merit. Finally, high marks to the very professional Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor) and Graham Johnson (piano) for performing so well such a variety of songs of different quality and style.
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