Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:


Some recent publications

Banks continue to publish new choral music in their Eboracum (incidentally the Roman word name for York) range. Their print is clear and their policy ideal for choirs of all standards. These are works by living composers who are reinterpreting discoveries of the past for our own times.

Here is the list of seven recent publications, which have come my way:-

Three Irish Folk Songs arranged for male voices by Edgar M.Deale ECS 361 £2.15

Early One Morning an Irish folksong arranged for S.A.T.B by John Powell ECS 376 £1.30p

Oliver Cromwell A Suffolk nursery rhyme arranged for S.A.T.B by John Powell ECS 377 £1.30p

My Lagan Love Irish Traditional arranged for S.A.T.B and soprano solo by John Powell ECS 403 £1.10p

Carrickfergus Irish Folksong arranged for S.S.A by Gwyn Arch ECS 396 £1.60p

Gloucestershire Wassail Traditional Carol Melody arranged for S.S.A by Vernon Hoyle ECS 415 £.1.10p

St. Paul's Cathedral Descant Book by John Scott organist of St.Pauls. ECS283 £3.95

Its certainly good to see that the century old (at least) traditional of taking traditional melodies and rearranging, or as some might say disarranging them for various voices is continuing to flower, and that composers continue to feel that they have something to say in this area. It is also good to note that publishers are happy to continue to publish these works. There is something here for all sorts of choirs and none of the music is beyond able amateurs and good school choirs.

To look in a little more detail:-

Having sung with a group of all male voices for many years I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to find interesting material. Inevitably one makes one's own arrangements. Publishers have told me on numerous occasions that such and such an arrangement or anthem, although good, would simply not sell. The set of three arrangements of Irish folktunes are well crafted and no doubt very satisfactory to sing. 'Down by the Sally Gardens' and 'The Palatine's Daughter' arranged by Deale have piano accompaniments, the middle one 'The Wild Hills of Clare' does not. It is in four parts; the accompanied one is in three.

I wonder how many people have arranged 'Early One Morning'? Powell's 4-part reworking includes a solo baritone and is partially divisi for the alto and tenor; the very voices which can be weakest in many amateur choirs. The basses divide in the last verse. However the harmony is never too demanding.

In 'My Lagan Love' (a lovely melody this) the solo soprano needs to have a flexible voice. The tuning will also be vital. The harmony and rhythm is more complex and all parts are divisi at times.

You will know 'Oliver Cromwell' from Britten's arrangement. Powell here gives the lower voices an attractive syncopated rhythm. But there is also some close and dissonant harmony i.e. Eb against D in the soprano whilst the altos sing C and Db. There is also some glissando marked in and there are regular key changes. It is unaccompanied. Great fun for a good university choir wanting an unusual challenge.

'Carrickfergus' arranged by Arch would work beautifully for a choir of schoolgirls. It has a rolling piano accompaniment, which also would not tax anyone too much. The 'Gloucestershire Wassail' also for girls (or indeed trebles) will work for a more secular carol service. It is unaccompanied and not too difficult.

As to the descants. There is much competition in this field. These should sell as they have John Scott's name attached to them. The beauty of these 26 descants is that some have been transposed for the organist, and for the choir who is more reliant say on older singers. This is a very good idea and should be considered in Hymn books. In my view the accompanying harmonies are too banal. But this is a practical publication, which I am sure will be found most useful at church and in school.

Gary Higginson

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board.  Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.This is the only part of MusicWeb for which you will have to register.

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers:
Amazon recommendations