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Songs of Muriel Herbert - Fanfare

12 May 2017
Henry Fogel

What a lovely discovery! I had never encountered the name Muriel Herbert until receiving this disc, and I’ve been collecting vocal records for 45 years! Herbert (1897–1984) was, on the evidence here, a very strong writer of songs in the English tradition, and anyone who enjoys the songs of Roger Quilter, for example, or Peter Warlock will find these extremely satisfying. Herbert studied with Charles Stanford, and knew Quilter, who helped to get her songs published. She actually fell in love with Quilter, and in her naïveté failed to understand that he was a homosexual. So he backed away from the friendship, which was a deep disappointment to her.

The 36 songs on this disc are impressive for their variety, their emotional range, and their consistent level of inspiration. There are love songs, songs for children, songs of yearning, and songs that celebrate the beauty of nature. I found myself returning to this disc with great pleasure.

In addition to the quality of the songs, much of the pleasure derives from the superb performances. Both singers and the pianist understand this music, and this is clearly a labor of love. There is no sense of sight-reading or surface skimming here. And the two voices are extremely attractive as well. Natural recorded sound, with just the right balance between piano and voice, rounds out the disc, and an added plus are the insightful notes by the composer’s daughter along with complete texts. Bravo to all involved with this project. 

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