John Langstaff

At the Foot of Yonders Mountain

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Of the albums of folk songs recorded in the 1950s and 1960s by classically trained baritone John Langstaff, this one blends most seamlessly his classical and traditional talents and inclinations. Consisting mostly of folk songs arranged for voice and piano by the composer John Powell, this album was originally issued in 1961 under Powell's name and with the composer accompanying Langstaff at the piano; for the CD reissue, pianist Judith Gordon added a new recording of three more of Powell's folk song settings for piano alone. The first five tracks were published as "Five Virginia Folk Songs, Op. 34," and on the first two ("Bonnie Wee Thing" and "Pretty Sally") Langstaff seems to be pushing the upper limit of his range a bit, making some passages sound somewhat strained. But he is clearly enjoying himself on the children's songs that follow (even the gruesome "There Was a Man in Our Town"), and on all of them Powell's piano parts are both brilliantly written and beautifully played. The three piano miniatures that end the program are a bit slight, but certainly charming enough. Recommended.

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