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(1942- )
Songs & Instrumental music
James Bowman (Counter tenor): Alison Wells (Soprano): Jon Turner (Recorder):
Helen Sanderson and Neil Smith (Guitars): Keith Swallow (Piano).
Forsyth CD FS003
available From Forsyth Brothers Limited, 126 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2GR UK +44(0)161 834 3281 +44(0)161 834 0630 e-mail:

Following on from the enjoyable 'John & Peter's Whistling Book' (Forsyth) and 'English Recorder Music' (Olympia), here is a kaleidoscope of delight, introduced -as if by a party of 'waits' - by the jaunty summons of the title music 'Here we come a-piping'. If the subject of this intriguing collection is the vocal and instrumental music of the west country composer Nicholas Marshall (1942-) the moving force behind this recording (with its host of enthusiastic subscribers) is surely the indefatigable recorder virtuoso John Turner, whose piping - both in solo items such as the virtuosic 'Spring morning with birds' and as cheerful obbligato in the delectably singable versions of nursery and folk melodies - is infectious. All is not frivolity by any means- the five Winter songs, depicting the many faceted aspects of Winter, beautifully sung by Alison Wells with Keith Swallow, are followed by six Love songs - James Bowman and the guitarist Helen Sanderson -whose strangely mediaeval sound colours even the setting of James Joyce. In the first of these sets (written in 1969) the impressions of winter, ranging from Shakespeare's 'icicles' to Drinkwater's 'coloured retinue of Spring', have the unity of theme of a song cycle. The second, Six songs of Love, also has a common theme, though in poets as disparate as Ford and Charles Causley - the latter's 'Hawthorn White' with its sinister Stanley Spencer-like overtones and the timbre of the counter tenor, is as menacing as the Lyke Wake Dirge, sending shivers down the spine.

In between these more serious items four aphoristic Haiku for solo recorder - delineating the momentary impressions of the three-line verses - and three Japanese Fragments, also Haiku-like played by the second guitarist Neil Smith, add to the variety. A set of 17th century tunes from Playford, with recorder and guitar, reinforce the mediaeval atmosphere.

The gems of the collection however are, for me, the deliciously harmonised children's songs of 'Carousel' sung by Alison Wells, and the final, equally well known six Folk Song settings - sung by James Bowman with John Turner's cheerful and infectious embroidery and moments of piquant polytonality - all inviting one to 'sing-along'.

For each of the participants in this excellently balanced recording the disc is something of a showcase - and the composer Nicholas Marshall is well served.

Colin Scott-Sutherland


Colin Scott-Sutherland

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