The English Song Series
Naxos Rejuvenates Treasured Recordings
In a bold display of commitment to the purveyance of quality British music, Naxos is releasing the English Song Series, seven CDs of works by British composers sung by leading interpreters of song. Observant music enthusiasts may recognise this particular set of recordings; all seven discs debuted on the now-defunct Collins Classics label in the early 1990s. Unwilling for these excellent performances to go to waste, Naxos is breathing new life into the series in 2003.
The project has been spearheaded by Select Music, the U.K. distributor for Naxos. According to Barry Holden, Marketing Manager of Select Music, Naxos is "proud to be able to give them a new lease of life, with full sung vocal texts, new booklet essays, and fresh artwork: all at Naxos price! The strength of our global marketing and distribution, as well as our attractive price, should at last ensure these treasures of English Song remain available for all for the foreseeable future. Although Naxos remains primarily focussed on creating superb new recordings, there are occasions when the logic of deploying wonderful existing recordings is just too strong."
Logic, indeed, played a large role in the acquisition of the recordings. With ample space in the extensive Naxos catalogue for the oft-underrepresented English song genre, the Collins recordings seemed to be a perfect fit. Holden muses, "In the case of the English Song Series, which Graham Johnson pioneered with Collins Classics in the mid-1990s, fate had left these glorious seven recordings sitting on the shelf for several years, so when an opportunity arose to purchase the masters outright, we grabbed them without hesitation for Naxos."
Three of the seven titles-songs by Somervell, Walton, and Vaughan Williams-have been released to date, with a fourth release focussing on the songs of Warlock planned for a spring release. Performers include Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Simon Keenlyside, Dame Felicity Lott, Philip Langridge, Janice Watson, Toby Spence, Christopher Maltman, and Susan Gritton. The current releases have generated a vast amount of positive interest in the project, a particularly surprising development for previously-released discs. Critics and consumers alike have rejoiced at the prospect of having the recordings back on the market. The remaining recordings, featuring works by Lehmann, Quilter, and Holst, will be released throughout the coming year.
Listen to excerpts from the English Song Series:
Vaughan Williams 8.557114