A telling example of how, given certain circumstances, works bow to the expressive supremacy of music. Nowadays the “quaint” English singing style may seem a little dated but the overall effect is overwhelming—the studio recording providing the more intimate experience; the live one a higher ratio of passion. The rapturously beautiful Song of the High Hills is another Beecham “must”.
A Village Romeo and Juliet was recorded two years later. René Soames was a tenor with a very English sound; to say the least, he does not sound sufficiently ardent, and is dry, his tone is somewhat uningratiating, making his portrayal of Sali seem a little stiff, though musically the clarity and precision are impressive. Lorely Dyer as Vreli is fresh and bright, but she has a small voice and her intonation at the beginning of scene 4 is vulnerable. However, the Naxos transfer captures the voice better than the 1992 EMI transfer of this historic Beecham recording, with less emphasis on her rapid vibrato. It is also good to hear such vintage singers of the period as Dennis Dowling and Frederick Sharp as the respective fathers of the hero and heroine, with an excellent line-up of soloists in the many incidental roles. The extra items are very welcome too.