For the Power of Love: An English Songbook, pianist Graham Johnson and mezzo-soprano Alice Coote have selected music spanning almost half a century, from the early 1880s to the late 1920s. The music, which is presently essentially chronologically, ranges from the popular Victorian parlor song Love's Old Sweet Song to the unsentimental coolness of Holst's "Journey's End," and the spooky, chilling nihilism of the composer's "Betelgeuse." The rest of the songs fall stylistically in between these extremes, using the gentle language of late Romantic and post-Romantic lyricism that characterized English music of the period. In their artfully and intelligently arranged program, Coote and Johnson have wisely passed over the most familiar songs of the era to concentrate primarily on lesser known composers like Maude Valérie White, Liza Lehmann, Graham Peel, Roger Quilter, Cecil Armstrong Gibbs, E.J. Moeran, and Ivor Gurney. It's a lovely selection that brings to light some real jewels like Lehmann's Ah, moon of my delight and Pa's bank, Gibbs' The Song of Shadows, Warlock's Queen Anne, and Gurney's Lights Out. Coote's voice is generously open and warm, and she can float it with ease and grace. She is capable of nail-spitting dramatic fire in some of her operatic roles, but this repertoire draws out an earnest tenderness that beautifully suits these songs. Graham Johnson's impeccable musicianship and sensitivity is abundantly evident in his fluid, nuanced accompaniments. Hyperion's sound is well balanced, clean, and realistically present.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
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