The Boy Choir and Soloist Directory is closing down on the 19th of this month. That’s a bigger disaster for me than losing the Boys’ Choir of Harlem.
Who am I going to plagiarize, I mean borrow, information from now?
One CD that I wanted to get for quite a while is Andrew Swait’s Song’s of Innocence, but I held back because I read an unflattering review of it. I shouldn’t have worried though, because I knew that Swait has an outstanding voice and talent. He couldn’t do anything bad, nor has he.
I’ll admit, this CD is a little different than the music I’m accustomed to hearing from boys. It’s more sophisticated in its style and song selections, but I like it.
This is another of those albums that deserve to be listened to quietly, without distractions, so the vocals can be savored and studied. Andrew’s voice has changed a bit since his previous year’s Choirboys CD, The Carols Album. The treble quality is still in full force and now it’s richer, more refined. Obviously he’s been studying hard and learning, it’s paying off nicely.
Swait’s voice is not the only one on here. James Bowman, the famous counter-tenor, sings duet with him on several numbers and his voice is a lot like Andrew’s, only more mature. They weave a pretty tapestry together.
I thought that the title, Songs of Innocence, may have been taken from William Blake’s book by the same name and because both have a “Cradle Song”, but then I saw that the words were different so I guess I was wrong.
The liner notes don’t mention Blake at all. They are pretty thorough in mentioning everyone else, though. There is a ton of useful and interesting information in the booklet about Britten, Barber, Ives and other great composers. There are 25 songs and only a few were familiar to me.
One really interesting thing is that they feature some songs by Britten that have not been recorded before, such as The Owl, Witches’ Song and The Rainbow, written when the composer was only a little older than Andrew Swait.
I won’t go into the songs much (the list can be found on the internet) except to say that I really like The Slow Train by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann. The melody is pretty and a couple of verses are spoken instead of sung, like a conductor announcing the stations. It’s fun.
Also I should add that the music on this CD is by pianist Andrew Plant and is quite excellent.
Andrew Swait began his musical training at a very early age and at 6 he went to the Abbey School, Tewkesbury. “At 7 he became one of the youngest to receive a surplice at the final initiation by Michael Tavener (then Vicar of Tewkesbury Abbey) of probationers into the choir.”
He also plays piano and cello. What a kid.