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I’ll Sing Thee Songs explores under-aired British popular songs from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, together with a few more familiar pieces, accompanied on pianos of the time. Some charmingly quaint ballads are represented such as Dibdin’s ‘Jolly Dick the Lamplighter’ and ‘Tom Tough’, but also ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ by Stanford and ‘The Shepherd’s Song’ by Elgar. Greg Tassell’s lyrical English tenor is well-suited to the repertoire, and he shines in songs such as ‘O Swallow, Swallow’ and ‘Ben Backstay’, but occasionally seems more comfortable in his middle than his upper range. Although Gary Branch accompanies sensitively, even his playing can’t disguise that there were considerable advances in piano-making between the earliest piano used on this recording from 1801 and the two other instruments from the mid-to- late nineteenth century.

Nicholas Bown Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2013 - ©Rhinegold Publishing