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English Song Spring 2021

The English Song Series

The English Song Series on Naxos is one of the label's flagship series.

To celebrate the launch of the new box set ENGLISH SONG COLLECTION on 14th May 2021, Naxos Direct is offering 20% discount on the single titles in the series for the month of May.

"Naxos deserves a rosette for rescuing this remarkable former Collins Classics series from oblivion... The performances are outstanding" BBC Music Magazine
Viewing 25 items
Image English Song Collection: Alwyn, Britten, Butterwor
The highly acclaimed English Song Series celebrates the richness and diversity of British composers, performed by leading interpreters of the repertoire. Growing out of an ancient tradition that still echoes in the folk song arrangements of Benjamin Britten, the British art song draws its inspiration from the riches and intensity of English poetic language, the nation’s unique land and seascapes, and the suffering and joy of human emotions. From the delightfully light-hearted songs of Liza Lehmann to the abundance of invention and imagery from today’s composers, this collection is a repository of the essence of British musical craftsmanship at its finest.

£79.99
Image WALTON: Anon in Love / Facade Settings / A Song fo
The English Series Vol. 1

Originally released as part of The English Song Series on the Collins Classics label, this recording explores Walton’s most important vocal works including Anon in Love, a setting of Elizabethan love lyrics originally composed for Peter Pears and Julian Bream, and A Song for the Lord Mayor’s Table. The youthful composer’s brilliance is also underlined in small gems such as The Winds, a poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne, which the precocious Walton wrote at 16 years of age.


£6.39 (£7.99)
Image SOMERVELL: The Shropshire Lad / James Lee's Wife /
The English Song Series Vol. 2

Originally released as part of The English Song Series on the Collins Classics label, this recording explores the vocal works of one of the pioneers of English song. Arthur Somervell was the first composer to set A.E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad. His setting of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence shows his ease at composing for children, while his familiarity today rests on his setting of Tennyson’s Maud.

£6.39 (£7.99)
Image VAUGHAN-WILLIAMS: On Wenlock Edge / Five Mystical
The English Song Series Vol. 3

Originally released as part of The English Song Series on the Collins Classics label, this recording
includes major works by one of the key figures in English vocal music. Although best known today for his larger-scale and symphonic works, Vaughan Williams was throughout his life an enthusiast and collector of English folk music. The songs here range from the very beginning to the near end of the composer’s career and include the famous A.E. Housman setting On Wenlock Edge.



£6.39 (£7.99)
Image WARLOCK: The Curlew / Lillygay / Peterisms / Sauda
The English Song Series Vol. 4

Originally released as part of The English Song Series on the Collins Classics label, this programme reflects the wide variety of vocal styles and moods of Warlock’s music. The centrepiece is Warlock’s heartfelt and atmospheric setting of W. B. Yeats’s The Curlew. Set beside this are Warlock’s boisterous drinking songs, as well as a number of more sober individual songs.

£6.39 (£7.99)
Image QUILTER: Songs
The English Song Series Vol. 5

Originally released by Collins Classics, this recording covers 40 years of Quilter’s career. It ranges from the anonymous 15th-century An Old Carol, by way of the great 16th- and 17th-century English poets, who inspired Quilter to some of his finest songs, to poems by the Irish contemporaries. With over 100 songs to his name, Quilter holds a firm place in the history of English Romantic song.


£6.39 (£7.99)
Image HOLST: Vedic Hymns / Four Songs, Op. 35 / Humbert
The English Song Series Vol. 6

Originally released by Collins Classics as part of The English Songs Series, this recording offers a
fascinating selection of the 72 solo songs Holst wrote across his entire compositional career. They
range from the 6 Songs from 1903–04, representative of the composer’s earlier styles, through to the Vedic Hymns of 1907–08, Holst’s first confident use of ancient Hindu literature, the 4 Songs for Voice and Violin, inspired by medieval lyrics and folk music modes, to the 12 Humbert Wolfe Settings of 1929, songs of ‘love, reflection and fantasy’. The album concludes with The Heart Worships, one of Holst’s best-loved songs.


£6.39 (£7.99)
Image BRITTEN: Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo / Holy Sonn
Britten’s song cycles form a substantial and important part of his work. The 7 Sonnets of Michelangelo belong to the period when Britten had begun to set foreign languages in an attempt to broaden his musical horizons. Written in August 1945, The Holy Sonnets of John Donne captures some of the bleak intensity of that experience. In the eight settings of Thomas Hardy, Winter Words, written in 1953, the textures are generally leaner and more economical.

£6.39 (£7.99)
Image LEHMANN: The Daisy Chain / Bird Songs / Four Cauti
The English Song Series Vol. 8

Although the British composer Liza Lehmann had begun her career as a singer, damage to her vocal cords forced her to concentrate on composition. This collection from 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.

£6.39 (£7.99)
Image BRITTEN: Canticles Nos. 1-5 / The Heart of the Mat
Britten’s five Canticles are marvellously vivid, intensely dramatic works. Although they were not
designed to be performed together – they span virtually his whole career, from the early 1940s to the mid-1970s, and were composed for a variety of forces and singers – forming a remarkably effective sequence. All five were composed for the tenor voice of Peter Pears, and chart the personal and creative relationship between Britten and his most important muse.

£6.39 (£7.99)
Image BRITTEN: Folk Song Arrangements
The English Song Series Vol. 10

Benjamin Britten was throughout his life drawn to folk song, possessing a special gift for word setting and vocal writing. Previously available on Collins Classics, this double disc presents all the known folk songs, in both their piano and orchestral arrangements, along with the volumes for guitar and harp. There are ten world premiere recordings of folk song arrangements published as recently as 2001.

£10.39 (£12.99)
Image QUILTER: Folk-Song Arrangements / Part-Songs for W
The English Song Series Vol. 11

Although Quilter did not draw on English folk song as a musical resource in the way that Vaughan Williams and others did, he was very well aware of the heritage and himself arranged a variety of songs, ‘one of the most delicate and dangerous undertakings’. This recording, which includes several world premieres, presents the complete folk song arrangements and complete part songs for women’s voices.

£6.39 (£7.99)
Image FINZI: I Said to Love / Let Us Garlands Bring / Be
The English Song Series Vol. 12

Gerald Finzi made a significant contribution to British 20th-century song writing, especially with his settings of Thomas Hardy, his favourite poet, whom he set more than any other. Finzi’s empathy with Hardy’s bleak fatalism, his sense of transience and his anger at the suffering that mankind afflicts on fellow human beings permeates all three collections on this album.


£6.39 (£7.99)
Image BRITTEN: Folk Song Arrangements, Vol. 2
Benjamin Britten was throughout his life drawn to folk song, possessing a special gift for word setting and vocal writing. This second album of the complete folk song arrangements focuses on the orchestral versions and the volumes for guitar and harp.

£6.39 (£7.99)
Image VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Songs of Travel / The House of L
The English Song Series, Vol. 14

Songs of Travel, composed in 1904 at a time when the composer’s personal voice was emerging, have been described as a ‘kind of English Winterreise’. Together with The House of Life, settings of six sonnets by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, they are the first to mark a significant advance from the Edwardian parlour song towards true English art song.


£6.39 (£7.99)
Image FINZI: Earth and Air and Rain / To a Poet / By Foo
The English Song Series Vol. 15

This second volume of Finzi songs includes two Hardy collections, the early By Footpath and Stile, and the mature setting Earth and Air and Rain, both of which share the poet’s preoccupation with death and the transience of life. Composed from 1928 to 1932, Earth and Air and Rain includes two of Finzi’s best-known songs, Rollicum-Rorum and To Lizbie Brown.

£6.39 (£7.99)
Image FINZI: Young Man's Exhortation
The English Song Series Vol. 16

This third and final volume of Finzi songs includes two Hardy settings, A Young Man’s Exhortation and Till Earth Outwears, which share the poet’s preoccupation with the ‘passing preciousness of dreams’, the transience of life and death itself.

£6.39 (£7.99)
Image ALWYN: Mirages / 6 Nocturnes / Seascapes / Invocat
The English Song Series 17

William Alwyn composed prolifically in virtually all genres, orchestral, chamber, vocal and instrumental. His major works for the voice were composed during the latter part of his career, between 1965 and 1980, and include four of the song-cycles recorded here. These are set to poems by the composer himself, the Irish poet Louis MacNeice, and the composer's good friend, Michael Armstrong who lived for over 40 years in Jersey where he derived much inspiration for his poems from the sea and the surrounding landscape. Seven of the songs here receive their world premi?¿re recording.

£5.59 (£6.99)
Image John Ireland: Songs
The English Song Series 18

Although John Ireland is best remembered for his orchestral works, his 91 songs convey a peculiarly
English quality of emotion expressed through reserve. The many gems on this recording include the
bittersweet Sea Fever (1913), the dark, fatalistic 3 Songs to Poems by Thomas Hardy and the heart-rending Her Song, one of Ireland’s most beautiful.


£6.39 (£7.99)
Image Gurney: Songs
The English Song Series

Described by his teacher, Stanford, as \the one who most fulfilled the accepted ideas of genius", the poet and composer Ivor Gurney composed more than 300 songs despite suffering from bipolar disorder and tuberculosis.

The Five Elizabethan Songs show the young composer's astonishing limpid fluency, while Tears and Sleep rank among his most exquisite creations. Comedy, heavenly rapture, tender urgency and lovelorn longing all touch the music of this 'lover and maker of beauty', whose songs find ideal interpreters in Susan Bickley and Iain Burnside.

"Susan Bickley's sensitivity and vocal allure confirming her among the finest mezzos of her generation" Classical Source"

£6.39 (£7.99)
Image Butterworth: Shropshire Lad
The English Song Series 20

One of England's most distinctive composers, George Butterworth belonged to the generation of young men decimated in the Great War of 1914-1918. His sensitive and melancholic settings of poems from A. E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad, with their subject matter of the futility and arbitrariness of war, are small-scale masterpieces. Of particular note are the 'Loveliest of Trees', describing the passing of the seasons, and the ghostly and elegiac 'Is my team ploughing?' The Folk Songs from Sussex and settings of poems by R. L. Stevenson, Shelley and Wilde, whose subject matter revolves around flirtation, love, courtship, marriage and desertion, are no less notable for their attention to detail, linguistic nuance and delicate, economical piano writing.

£6.39 (£7.99)
Image Venables: On The Wings Of Love
The English Song Series 21

Ian Venables is one of Britain's foremost composers of art-song, and has a significant catalogue of vocal and chamber music to his credit. Writing tonal music in a warm lyric vein, he has a rare gift of being able to ' locate' himself, believably, in a different period and absorb from it, both musically and poetically, all its fundamental beauty, while also producing works of astonishing freshness, naturalness and originality. On the Wings of Love are settings by non-English poets, while Love's Voice sets Venetian poetry by J. A. Symonds. All his songs are sincere expressions of a love of poetry, combined with a profound understanding of musical and poetic tradition.

£6.39 (£7.99)
Image Britten: Songs And Proverbs Volume 22
Britten wrote his Songs and Proverbs of William Blake, Op. 74 for the German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in 1965. The singer admired the 'concentration and enigmatic smile' of the settings, and Britten constructed, through alternation of proverbs with songs, and an intense contemplation on the human and the eternal, one of his greatest song cycles. By contrast Tit for Tat sees Britten revisiting youthful, light-spirited settings of the poet Walter de la Mare. The folk-song arrangements are amongst his most famous, and beloved.

Britten's song cycles are some of the greatest produced in the twentieth century. This disc focuses on his Blake cycle, one of his deepest and most contemplative. It's contrasted with a very different and youthful cycle of five called Tit for Tat, written when he was a teenager.

The baritone Roderick Williams encompasses a wide repertoire, from baroque to contemporary music, in the opera house, on the concert platform and in recital. His recital appearances have taken him to London's Wigmore Hall and many European festivals. He has an extensive discography and his recordings of English song with Iain Burnside have received particular acclaim.

£6.39 (£7.99)
Image Dove: All You Who Sleep Tonight | Song Cycles
Jonathan Dove is one of Britain's most resourceful and versatile contemporary composers, whose affinity for vocal setting is especially striking. From the operatic canvas of his acclaimed Flight to his song cycles, his acutely perceptive approach to texts is unmistakeable. Out of Winter, written in collaboration with Dove, is the late Sir Robert Tear's poetic response to Thomas Hardy's Winter Words. Cut My Shadow is a powerful and harrowing setting of three Lorca texts notable for a sense of constant unease and longing for a homeland. All You Who Sleep Tonight, to poems by Vikram Seth, is elegant, moving, and witty whilst Ariel explores Shakespeare's elusive character from The Tempest in a rôle for unaccompanied soprano.

£6.39 (£7.99)
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