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Hyperion Records

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La belle dame sans merci by Sir Frank Dicksee (1853-1928)
© Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67830
Recording details: February 2010
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: June 2011
Total duration: 6 minutes 55 seconds

'Finley, who has one of those exquisite voices that could make poetry of the telephone directory, vividly characterises the words without recourse to the exaggerated enunciation … Drake uses all the colouristic forces he can command with wit (The Flea), bravura (Erlkönig and Wolf's spellbinding Der Feurreiter) and imagination (Loewe's Die wandelnde Glocke). As these pages have said before, it's a great partnership' (Gramophone)

'A new idea for the anthology disc: here is Gerald Finley, in his vocal prime, as balladeer—telling tales of misadventure and gothic horror … Finley is a fine tale-teller. In Loewe, he sounds as though he's singing just for you, the listener, so rapt and intense is his communication' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Drake's playing has successfully suited the varied repertoire. Finley has enthralled with his interpretations and delighted with his singing purely as singing, combining the two expertly. If I were a reviewer who seems to think that it is mandatory to nominate a CD as outstanding each month I might consider proposing this well-recorded issue' (International Record Review)

'Listen to these wonderfully melodramatic, mostly Victorian ballads by candlelight in a haunted house … performances full of raging fortissimos and ghoulish tremolandos from Finley and his pianist Julius Drake' (The Times)

The Desert
First line:
Alone in the desert, alone, I'm alone
circa 1860
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Plymouth-born composer and bandmaster Louis Emanuel (1819–c1889) composed his entertainingly over-the-top ballad The Desert around 1860, probably for performance in Vauxhall Gardens where he was music director from 1845. The swirling chromatic scales—depicting the wheeling vulture—and pounding repeated notes of the piano introduction irresistibly suggest silent-movie music. After the ‘parched’ music of ‘No stream can I find’, and a brief lyrical interlude as the stranded hero thinks of family and friends, the vulture circles ever closer. Then, with a change from ominous E flat minor to E flat major, a bell tinkles softly in the distance: cue for our hero to celebrate his imminent rescue in a rollicking 6/8 metre.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2011

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