‘Far Away’ – Sarah Poole (soprano) and Derek Harris (piano)
Released by Prima Facie Records
Sarah Poole is a singer who I have heard before, mainly on a recording of an album also on Prima Facie of works by the composer David Heyes. Indeed, so enamoured was I with the music and performances, that I have played her interpretation of two of the songs on this new release a number of times on my radio on show on Fab Radio International, thereby sharing her voice and her accompanist Derek Harris around the world to new audiences. I aren’t going to go into too much depth with my review, as I feel I’m saying enough, and also I hope you’ll trust my words of wisdom, and go out and get yourself a copy of the disc asap! The recording brings together a great collection of new songs, from some terrific composers around. All the songs bring a wide variety tonal landscapes to the musical table, so to speak, but because of that I feel the album as a whole really works. Stylistically, each composers voice is widely different in texture, colour, etc, etc, but somehow the performers have brought together a collection sounds that work together giving a very balanced CD, and one we can enjoy all the way through, as each track, and composers voice adds something different to our auditory experience. The performance throughout is, as you would expect from such fine composers added to wonderful, experienced performers with such musicianship, is a joy to listen to. As I said, I’m not giving you all the programme notes, you can read them yourselves, but I’m hoping that I inspire you a little to search the CD out and try this delightful album of modern songs.
“An Appalachian Elegy” by Frank Bayford
Lovely scene setting intro from the piano, before beautiful, dreamlike vocal melody enters. The whole song, written by London born composer Frank Bayford, is so well balanced in both composition, and performance, that I had to play it again immediately. The gentle ending is actually quite sublime too.
“Sonnet For A Summers Day” by Tony Osborne
I love the relaxed, bouncy feel of the piano accompaniment, from the start. Some luscious harmonic changes add colour, and lead the singer through some delightful phrasing. Derek’s playing is terrific, and when he and Sarah work like this together, it’s truly the perfect balance between the two performers which helps bring the composers ideas to the fore. I have already had the pleasure to have played this song on my radio show on Fab Radio International.
“Cinq Chansons De France” by Philip Cannon
This is a terrific set of 5 songs, the performers giving a massive range of musical expression from the composers pen. Of course, throughout imense focussed control of the musical score is required to bring each song to it’s peak of expression, as the songs range from fast, delicate, powerful, and everything else in between.
“A Spotless Rose” by David Heyes
I have already reviewed this song, which is also featured on the composers own album “No Man’s Land”. Again, I have played the song on my radio show quite a few times now, and my thoughts don’t really change, as it is a beautiful piece, with simple, spacious accompaniment from Derek, it gives the space for the beautifully sung vocal line from Sarah to invoke in us, this journey from the composers creative mind, and heart, to some other place. With such imagination, the auditory imaging works so well.
“Four Songs On Poems By Sara Teasdale” by Eric Funk
Another set of short songs, this time 4. The composer manages to draw us into his soundworld, somehow, using very expressive means indeed. Although all the songs in this set are fairly slow in tempo, held in rein, so to speak, using great creative ideas produces some really luscious songs.
“Searching For Lambs” by Peter Lamb
This a well written and lovely balanced, and expressively performed song, with vocal melody and piano accompaniment a perfect balance throughout.
“Far Away” by David Heyes
Again, another song I have played on show a few times now already, and reviewed the song previously, so won’t say too much about it other than this. Sarah and Derek give a lovely performance of this song. The lovely pianistic touches from Derek introducing us into the song, and I’ve said before, I held my breath as the voice enters our ears and heart. The singing so expressive that the listener becomes enraptured by both the words and music, what more sort of interpretation could a composer hope for.
“Evenfall” by Humphrey Clucas
This reminds me of a Lute song, particularly the ’strummed’ style piano chords. Such a lovely texture, which receives a delicately convincing performance from both artists – the ideal interpreters of this work.
“John Barleycorn” by John Alexander
The final track on this album is a folk song most of us already know. Here the composer adds his own compositional skills to a traditional song, using such creative touches in his writing that he manages to bring this folksong into the 21st century. Both players, as always on this disc, give a stunning performance – sometimes delicate, others powerful and provocative, an exact representation of the song – excellent.
So, there you go, just a hint of what to expect if you get the recording, of course there’s a lot more to say, and I could tell you much more detail, but I truly believe the music should speak for itself, and should, so I’m just giving a few ideas of what it’s all about. Yeah, you’re probably thinking now, isn’t there anything that he doesn’t like, erm, well, no actually! It’s a terrific disc, well programmed and performed and highlighting both the unique creative voice, and inspiration of each composer, and the fantastic interpretation of such talented performers. An excellent addition to the Prima Facie catalogue. Prima Facie Records are at: ascrecords.com/primafacie