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Track(s) taken from CDA67899

Three Songs of Venice

1974; dedicated to Dame Janet Baker; first performed on 24 October 1977 at a 'Save Venice Fund' concert
author of text

Catherine Wyn-Rogers (mezzo-soprano), Christopher Glynn (piano)
Recording details: January 2010
Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Mellor
Engineered by Andrew Mellor
Release date: January 2012
Total duration: 11 minutes 1 seconds

Cover artwork: Pale Moon (2002) by Ann Brain (b1944)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'Singers and pianist perform with conviction and style' (Gramophone)

'Head created the most inventive and sympathetic writing for voice and piano, in asymmetrical, free-flowing, artful settings of poets such as Walter De La Mare, John Masefield and Christina Rossetti … their expressive power is enhanced by the presence of the pianist Christopher Glynn and three particularly word-sensitive singers … a revelation' (BBC Music Magazine)

'As these meticulous performances demonstrate, Head was acutely sensitive to words. There are settings of Masefield and Yeats, Hardy, Joyce and Christina Rossetti here, and in every song each phrase is perfectly balanced, its accompaniment supremely tactful' (The Guardian)

'Head, a long-neglected member of the first world war generation of English composers, is coming back to favour, and this collection of 27 songs, deftly accompanied by Christopher Glynn, will do his reputation nothing but good … Head makes sure England's fields are forever green, even when the mood is tinged with sadness' (Financial Times)
Nancy Bush wrote the words for the Three Songs of Venice (1974), which were composed for and dedicated to Dame Janet Baker (who had memorably recorded A Piper on an anthology of English song released in 1963, masterminded by Ted Perry, founder of Hyperion Records, when he was working for Saga Classics). They are among Head’s most ambitious settings in their range, subtlety and scope and a fine envoi to his career as a song composer. Sadly Head did not live to hear the first performance at a concert for the ‘Save Venice Fund’ on 24 October 1977. The Gondolier has a mysterious quality with a decorative opening idea on the piano which binds the song together; it is combined with a lapping rhythm that effectively portrays the sensation of the gondola plying its way through the narrow canals. In the middle of the song, the rhythm is interrupted by the eerie call of the gondolier. The bustle of people and the flights of wheeling pigeons find their musical equivalent in St Mark’s Square, where a variant of the piano idea from the previous song is prominent. Rain storm also has thematic links to the first song and reaches its climax with a memorable melodic phrase at the words ‘A city more beautiful than any other’.

from notes by Andrew Burn © 2012

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