Vocal music of Liza Lehmann (1862-1918)

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Vocal music of Liza Lehmann (1862-1918)

Post by Lance » Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:21 pm

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Originally issued on the British Collins label in 1977, one of a series of CDs entitled "The English Song Series," volume 8 is dedicated to the vocal compositions of Liza Lehmann was an English-born soprano - father German, mother English. In her day, she was noted as an outstanding soprano who performed regularly and to great acclaim. This series of English Folk Songs was subsequently adopted by Naxos and issued on their generally delightful label. As the note says on the back tray liner: "Although the British composer Liza Lehmann had begun her career as a singer - she appeared in concerts and recitals, performing in oratorio and in various London concert series as well as overseas [including the USA] - damaged her vocal cords forced her to concentrate on composition, in which she had had an interest since early childhood, and on accompaniment. This collection for her extensive song output includes poems from Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses, once familiar in every nursery, her delightful mock-serious settings of Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales and two Nonsense Songs from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Although the songs are short and light-hearted, they exhibit considerably more than just period charm. Liza Lehmann's second son, Lesley, was the father of the conductor/pianist Steuart Bedford, who accompanies the songs here, as his grandmother once did, and the composer David Bedford."

For some reason, I never acquired the discs when originally issued on the now defunct Collins label (which boasted a fine catalogue of recordings), but I happen to be looking for additional recordings of the famous Victorian song, [/i]Come Into the Garden, Maud,[/i] and noticed a version composed by Arthur Somervell (1863-1937) from a set of his song cycle Maud, which is fine but doesn't compare to the charm of the the more famous one by Balfe. That led me to look over some of the other issues in the series and brought to me to Liza Lehman's disc. I've said all that to say this: this collection is utterly charming and highly enjoyable. Janice Watson, soprano, Catherine Wyn-Rogers, mezzo, Toby Spence, tenor, and Neal Davies, baritone are beautifully and sensitively accompanied by Steuart Bedford who proves to be a first class pianist. I was less enamoured with Spence's voice, where the high end of his range tends to be pushed, but the other singers are outstanding on this disc, which repertoire is now two decades old at this writing.

The titles of the songs are certainly of the "period," and descriptive. They include Cherry Ripe; a series of Bird Songs; When I Am Dead My Dearest; a group from her cycle [/i]The Daisy Chain[/i], and two delightful Nonesense Songs from Alice in Wonderland. and several others.

This kind of repertoire is performed very little today on the concert stage yet they take us back to a time that seems a great time to be alive. Thanks to recordings, we can relive these times to some degree. [This must be my British genes being awakened!]
Lance G. Hill

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]


John F
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Re: Vocal music of Liza Lehmann (1862-1918)

Post by John F » Sun Aug 06, 2017 2:31 pm

The song by Liza Lehmann, for most, is "There are Fairies at the Bottom of Our Garden," which strangely appears to be missing from the Naxos discs. And the classic recording of it is by Beatrice Lillie, which sends up the poem, the music, and a certain kind of singer, all at once.


While looking for this on YouTube I also found a video clip from the Ed Sullivan Show in which we can see her doing it. The record is a little better, but her business with the feather fan adds a dimension, like Anna Russell with her feather boa.

John Francis

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