Complete Songs For Voice And Piano (2010)


Amanda Roocroft, Konrad Jarnot, Reinild Mees

As we noted in the first volume of this survey of Elgar’s songs, like most composers his first attempts at composition were with anthems and small chamber and piano pieces, though unlike many young composers of his day, strangely Elgar wrote few songs until his various love affairs from his mid-twenties on•wards. Elgar’s early life as a composer was one of constantly hawking salon music and popular short pieces round publishers – a situation that gradually changed in the 1890s as his early works for chorus and orchestra were heard. But it took Elgar a long time to become established, the Enigma Variations only appearing when he was 41. The earliest song presented here, indeed Elgar’s earliest surviving completed work, a setting of the American James Gates Percival’s The Language of Flowers dates from May 1872 when he was not quite 15. He dedicated it to his sister Lucy on her twentieth birthday. It remained unpublished and unknown until recently when it was printed in the Elgar Collected Edition. In the 1880s, in his late-twenties, Elgar tried to establish himself as a composer with various short pieces, salon music and songs which as we have seen he took round the many London publishers of the day. A Soldier’s Song, styled as ‘Op 5’ dates from 1884 and although it was sung at the Worcester Glee Club in March that year it had to wait for publication until 1890 when it appeared in The Magazine of Music – and 1903, when renamed A War Song, Boosey took it on, doubtless with the public’s preoccupation with the Boer War in mind. Another American, Colonel John Hay provided the words for Through the Long Days, which dated ‘Gigglewycke (his friend Charles William Buck’s Yorkshire home) on 10 Aug 1885 was sung in London at a St James’s Hall ballad concert in February 1887 and, being short and tuneful was published almost immediately by Stanley Lucas, Weber & Co. Elgar generally set lesser-known or minor verse doubtless feeling that great poetry should stand on its own and not constrain him in his response. In this case the words were of immediate emotional resonance for Elgar, since, written in August 1885, they herald his lost fiancé Helen Weaver’s planned departure for New Zealand two months later. Is She Not Passing Fair? to words by Charles, Duc d’Orléans translated by Louisa Stuart Costello is dated 28 Oct 1886 and although not published until 1908 is perhaps the bestknown of our group thus far. Elgar had just met his future wife Alice Roberts and we must wonder if he was celebrating it in music. The ballad As I Laye a-thynkynge is another early publishing success, dated 12 June 1887 and issued by John Beare & Son the following year. As a Victorian, Elgar shared the period’s love of the pseudo medieval which saw so much of academe and religion decked out in the trappings of a reinvented past. Here he sets ‘Thomas Ingoldsby’ (real name R.H.Barham) complete with olde-worlde spellings.....

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Amanda Roocroft

Amanda Roocroft has secured an international reputation as one of Britain's most exciting singers in opera, concert and recital. She graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music and studies with Barbara Robotham. In concert she has appeared with leading orchestras and conductors throughout Europe and North America. She has sung and recorded, with sir John Eliot Gardiner, the part of Fiordiligi in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte on compact disc and video and has also recorded Vaughan Williams' Pastoral Symphony with Bernard Haitink. She has appeared at the BBC Proms, including the 2001 season and the Edinburgh International Festival and she regularly sings at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and at the Glyndebourne Festival. Recently she has toured Japan with the Bayerische Staatsoper and Zubin Mehta and Europe with the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester.

Reinild Mees

After extensive piano studies with Gérard van Blerk (Amsterdam), Malcolm Frager (USA) and Noël Lee (Paris) the Dutch pianist Reinild Mees concentrated her activities on accompanying singers and instrumentalists in recital. High-ranking artists as Elly Ameling, Gérard Souzay and Sandor Végh helped her refine and perfect her talents in this demanding métier.

Today Reinild Mees is a much sought-after accompanist for song recitals and duo concerts. She performs regularly in radio and television broadcasts. For Channel Classics Records she has recorded a number of interesting CD’s: The Complete Songs of Sir Edward Elgar, Ottorino Respighi, Franz Schreker and Karol Szymanowski. Currently she is recording all songcycles of Robert Schumann with the German baritone Jochen Kupfer, playing a historical grand piano from Schumann’s time. All of her CD’s have received extremely good reviews in Gramophone, Fono Forum, Musica, Luister and other magazines. In 2004 Reinild Mees won the Szymanowski - Award and the Medal 'Merit of Polish Culture' for her achievements in promoting the song repertoire of Karol Szymanowski. Recently the Szymanowski CD's won the FRYDERYK AWARD, the most prestigious music award in Poland for the best recording of Polish music in 2004.

As a vocal coach Reinild Mees has taught at the Amsterdam and Utrecht Conservatory, the European Centre for Opera and Vocal Art (Ghent) and the Opera Studio Nederland. In addition to accompanying masterclasses for Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Irmgard Seefried, Galina Vishnevskaja and other famous singers she played as an official accompanist for a number of international competitions. 

In order to promote the revival of the beautiful songs, mainly from the interbellum, which have been neglected after the Second World War, Reinild Mees founded the 20th Century Song Foundation. This foundation aims to bring back the musical treasure to the public by producing (semi-staged) song recitals with special themes: Spotlights concerts.

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Complete Songs For Voice And Piano (2010)


Amanda Roocroft, Konrad Jarnot, Reinild Mees


Een advies? Ga ook eens naar de liedkunst luisteren van Edward Elgar: briljant! In velerlei opzicht. In afwisseling, in stemkeuze en last but not least in opnamekwaliteit.


Beide zangers drukken het waardige, maar toch gevoelige karakter van de liederen geloofwaardig uit.

    BBC Music Magazine

The songs are finely done here. Konrat Jarnot ‘s striking baritone is always neatly and eloquent employed. Amanda Roocroft brings an equally persuasive approach to both texts and notes and accompanist Reinild Mees is excellent throughout.


A welcome second helping of Elgar songs from these sympathetic artists. (…) Konrad Jarnot leaves a most favourable impression, his timbre fresh and diction impeccable, the ‘War Song’ and Arabian Serenade’ push him to the very limits of his natural range. Amanda Roocroft sings with infectious ardour even so, making out an especially strong case for the two passionate Op. 60 settings from 2010 of texts by Elgar’s own pseudonym (Pietro d’Alba). Reinild Mees’s accompaniments are past prase in their discerning refinement and shapeliness. Here’s a disc that many devoted Elgarian will want to try.


Elgar's songs intermittently offer their share of faded Victorian/Edwardian pleasures (…) And, as on that first volume, those pleasure emerge with the utmost tact in the hands of these exceptional musicians, who manage to capture the songs' naïve innocence an sweet flights of fancy (…) (…) The rare moments of drama are delivered with ardor that's never overwrought (…) (…) both singers have immensely attractive voices, and both invest their phrasing with imaginative but unexaggerated color. (…)


Zachtzinnige lyriek Het aardige aan de cd is niet alleen Elgars muziek- die varieert van speels tot dramatisch. Sopraan en bariton wisselen elkaar steeds met enkele liederen af. Beide zingers tonen veel gevoel voor de zachtzinnige, liefdevolle lyriek van Elgars muziek. Het samen spel met Reinield Mees achter de piano is perfect.


Ein Tässchen Tee mit Sandwiches und Gebäck, so richtig nach englischer Tradition und dazu die passende Musik! (…) (…) Zumal Reinild Mees durch ihr plastisches, feinfühliges Spiel die Orchesterfarben in den Tasten entdeckt. Die ungewohnte Besetzung mit einer männlicher Stimme erhalt durch Jarnots charaktervolle, nuancenreiche Interpretation ihre Berechtigung (...)

Wat deze nieuwe Elgar-uitgave betreft is de hoogste lof eigenlijk maar net toereikend. Gedrieën staan Roocroft, Jarnot en Mees boven de zeer veeleisende techniek die het liederrepertoire nu eenmaal eigen is en waardoor ze zich interpretatief volkomen vrij kunnen bewegen, als drie zielen met één gedachte. In de vertolking van deze prachtige miniaturen treft het fraai afgewogen expressieve karakter waarmee de teksten muzikaal worden vormgegeven. Verbeeldingskracht en inlevingsvermogen gaan hier hand in hand, hetgeen het krachtigst denkbare pleidooi voor deze liederen oplevert. Het kan in deze liederen jagen en donderen, maar er zijn ook wondermooie pasteltinten te bewonderen als een frase net even wordt opgelicht alvorens een schaduwrand zich er meester van maakt. De spanningen worden feilloos geproportioneerd opgebouwd, zoals ze al even naturel weer mogen oplossen. Er gaat een magische aantrekkingskracht uit van deze spontane, frisse en doorleefde uitvoeringen, ze gaan rechtstreeks onder de huid en klinken nog lang na. Reinild Mees is een ideale begeleider, al moet worden gezegd dat het begrip 'begeleider' duidelijk afbreuk doet aan de creatieve invulling van zijn partij. Zijn vleugel kan fluisteren, zingen of bijna orkestraal naar de hemel reiken! De in april 2008 en januari 2009 in het Muziekcentrum Frits Philips in Eindhoven gemaakte opname is met evenveel liefde en vakmanschap gemaakt en laat het allemaal vlekkeloos uit de luidsprekers komen. Deze serie is zonder enige twijfel een must have; en niet alleen voor degenen die Elgars muziek al n hun hart hebben gesloten.


Van Speels tot dramatische muziek van Elgar’s Liederen. De sopraan en bariton wisselen elkaar steeds met enkele liederen af. Dat maakt de cd nog gevarieerder. De zangers tonen veel gevoel voor de zachtzinnige, liefdevolle lyriek van Elgars muziek. Het samenspel met de pianist Reinild Mees is perfect.

Complete Songs For Voice And Piano (2010)


Amanda Roocroft, Konrad Jarnot, Reinild Mees

Cables: van den Hul
Digital Converters: Meitner A/D DSD / Meitner DA
Mastering Engineer: Jared Sacks
Mastering Equipment: B&W 803 diamond series
Microphones: Bruel & Kjaer, Schoeps
Mixing Board: Rens Heijnis custom design
Producer: Jared Sacks
Recording Engineer: Jared Sacks
Recording location: Eindhoven Holland 2010
Recording Software: Pyramix bij Merging
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64
Speakers: Audiolab, Holland

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28610: Complete Songs For Voice And Piano
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Speak, my Heart!
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Is she not passing fair_
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A Song of Flight Op. 31
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The Shepherd?s Song
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The Language of Flowers
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After Op. 31 No. 1
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It isnae me
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The Pipes of Pan
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Shakespeare?s Kingdom
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Rondel Op. 16 No. 3
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The Poet?s Life
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A War Song Op. 5
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The Torch Op. 60 No. 1
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The River Op. 60 No. 2
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Was it some golden Star_ Op. 16 No. 2
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Through the long Days Op. 16 No. 2
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Arabian Serenade
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As I laye a-thynkynge
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A Child asleep
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The Chariots of the Lord
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The King?s Way
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