Mark Stone / Stephen Barlow

The Complete Quilter Songbook, Vol. 1

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AllMusic Review by

Roger Quilter's songs, compact, tuneful, and tonal, have appeared on many a song recital. What you'll think of a large number of them at once will depend entirely on your reaction to his musical approach, which never goes into great depth but possesses an irreducible quotient of charm. He wrote music in several genres, but the song was his true m├ętier, and a great deal of the appeal of his more than 100 songs lies in how they stay out of the way of the texts. Note that this "volume 1" of Quilter songs by British baritone Mark Stone, whose DIY label has been among the more successful in Britain, and accompanist Stephen Barlow contains 36 songs on one disc; there appears also to be a double-album volume 1 if you want even more Quilter. Stone's easily lyrical sound and inclination toward relaxed tempos fit well with British song of the early 20th century in general, and he is very much in tune with the modest grace of this music. Almost half the songs here are settings of texts by Shakespeare, and this does not exhaust the stock of Quilter Shakespeare settings. One could imagine these versions being used in actual Shakespeare productions, for they set a mood and put the text across perfectly clearly without diverting attention from the main attraction. Yet each poet seems to call forth a slightly different shade from Quilter, and the decadently gloomy poetry of Ernest Dowson, with several examples here, benefits from Quilter's restrained approach. Stone and Barlow have done well to group Quilter's songs by poet, for the effect of gently changing colors is an attractive one. The small West Sussex auditorium called the Music Room could not be better suited to this music, and the superb sound, generally atypical of performer-directed recordings, deserves notice, as do the production and engineering of Richard Sutcliffe.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Four Shakespeare Songs, Op. 30
1 2:05
2 1:05
3 2:22
4 1:38
Two Songs, Op. 26
5 3:02
6 2:04
7 1:32
Three Shakespeare Songs, Op. 6
8 3:23
9 1:41
10 2:36
11 1:52
Songs of Sorrow, Op. 10
12 3:17
13 2:06
14 2:40
15 3:01
16 1:10
17 1:03
18 1:56
19 2:04
20 1:58
Three Pastoral Songs, Op. 22
21 2:06
22 2:56
23 1:59
24 2:41
Two Shakespeare Songs, Op. 32
25 2:16
26 1:53
27 2:28
Four Child Songs, Op. 5
28 1:48
29 1:34
30 1:59
31 1:20
Five Shakespeare Songs, Op. 23
32 3:19
33 1:05
34 2:13
35 1:31
36 1:42
blue highlight denotes track pick