An Album of Victorian Song (1989)

Peter Allanson, baritone
Stephen Betteridge, piano

Recorded in the Purcell School
Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex

Symposium 1074
Symposium 1074

This CD contains a selection of Victorian art songs. Sullivan dominates the disc, with six detached songs—no other composer gets more than three—plus his eleven-song cycle, The Window, or The Loves of the Wrens. The unifying theme, according to liner notes by David Selwyn, is the influence of the German Lied on English composers.

Inclusion of The Window is especially notable, as it is the only recording of the complete cycle. (Every other Sullivan song on the disc has been recorded at least once before.) Heard alongside contemporaneous works, The Window holds up particularly well: Sullivan poured his best efforts into this cycle. The Schubertian piano part is particularly difficult, probably beyond what he expected of average parlor musician.

Baritone Peter Allanson isn't quite up to the demands of the material. If he were in the chorus, I would call him a second tenor. His highest notes aren't attractive; his lowest ones are under-powererd and sung with noticeable strain. The disc has its charms, but I would have preferred a stronger singer. However, I've nothing but praise for pianist Stephen Betteridge, who accompanies confidently. At 75 minutes, playing time is generous.

There is some confusion about the CD title. On the front of the case, it's "An Album of Victorian Song." On the back of the case, it's the same title with "Volume 1" added. On the side of the case, it's "Victorian Art Songs." Inside the notes, it's "Victorian Art Songs, Volume One." No Volume Two was ever produced, as far as I know.

Contents are as follows (composer and dates in parentheses, if not Sullivan):

  1. To Anthea, who may command him anything (John Liptrot Hatton [1809–86])
  2. The Brooklet (Edward James Loder [1813–65])
  3. The Sands of Dee (Michael William Balfe [1808–70])
  4. To Chloe in sickness (William Sterndale Bennett [1816–75])
  5. Gentle Zehyr (Bennett)
  6. The Hag (Hatton)
  7. The Owl (Henry Hugo Pearson [1815–73])
  8. Fear no more (Pearson)
  9. Love and Grief (Pearson)
  10. If doughty deeds
  11. Edward Grey
  12. I Heard the Nightingale
  13. Orpheus With his Lute
  14. Sigh no more, ladies
  15. Where the Bee Sucks (from The Tempest)
  16. The Window (or the Loves of the Wrens)
    1. On the Hill
    2. At the Window
    3. Gone
    4. Winter
    5. Spring
    6. The Letter
    7. No Answer
    8. No Answer
    9. The Answer
    10. When
    11. Marriage Morning
Issue History
1989 Symposium CD 1074 The liner notes show a 1989 publication date, but shows a 1994 issue date.