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The Far Country - 26 English Songs By John Jeffreys


Release Date: 08/21/2007 
Label:  Divine Art   Catalog #: 25049   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna TilbrookJames Gilchrist
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Although belonging to a much younger generation, John Jeffreys (b.1927) could, on stylistic and aesthetic grounds, be counted among the great songwriters of the second English Renaissance – composers like Quilter, Gurney, Ireland, Finzi and Warlock. Jeffreys even follows Warlock’s scholarly interest in the Elizabethan lute song, having published a scholarly “memoir”, as the booklet notes have it, of Philip Rosseter. An important point: like both Rosseter and his friend Thomas Campion, Jeffreys places the intelligibility of the texts above all else. Like theirs (and Finzi’s), his settings are largely syllabic. His sparse, evanescent accompaniments are incredibly evocative and his melodies have a folk-like simplicity that nevertheless Read more releases the fragrant depths of his chosen texts with a seemingly effortless grace.

The selection on this present disc, many of which are recorded here for the first time, spans more than 50 years and features a wide variety of poets. It is organised into six distinct section. ‘Songs of Love’ include a setting of Barry Duane Hill’s enigmatic The Song of Love and (Herrick’s) Passing By, while ‘Settings of Ivor Gurney’ feature a wistful version of Severn Meadows which compares very favourably with Gurney’s. ‘Sacred Texts’ has as it’s a centrepiece Joseph Campbell’s wonderful I am the Gilly of Christ. Jeffreys then goes head to head with Quliter in ‘Settings of Shakespeare’ with a superb O Mistress Mine before the watercolour sketches of ‘Evocations of place and nature’ (here, Wilfred Wilson Gibson’s Black Stitchel and Yeats’s Salley Gardenstake pride of place, the ghost of Gurney just audible in both). She is ever for the new and Jillian of Berry bring the recital to ‘A Jolly End’.

These settings are beautifully realized by tenor James Gilchrist, who has completely mastered the art of chiaroscuro and legato singing without sacrificing clarity of diction. Do you remember his Finzi recital for Linn Records? Here’s more of the same. Anna Tilbrook is, as always, a sympathetic accompanist. Booklet notes by Peter Palmer discuss Jeffreys’s influences and provide commentaries on each song; valuable biographical information (including the fact that, while in the throes of depression, Jeffreys destroyed many of his works, only to painstakingly recompose them once his depression lifted) is also included.

Some might find the overall tone of this disc rather sombre, but I for one incline to wards the melancholy and so found yet another reason for thinking John Jeffreys a true Elizabethan (II) master.

-- Robert Levett, International Record Review

What felicity it is to hear a tune again which has made me happy.” (Jane Austen ‘Emma’)

It is, of course, fashionable at present to quote Jane Austen – but it is appropriate here; music was ‘an innocent diversion’ in her life and writings. Among her music books at Chawton names like Stephen Storace, Charles Dibdin, Arne, Shield, Linley and other songsters appear. It is not inconceivable that, had Jane inhabited a 20th century drawing room, the name of John Jeffreys would feature amongst the music. His is a gentle voice – reflective – flowing as serenely as the Severn on the covering booklet - although the occasional song in this collection might disturb the waters as does the bore.

This is the fifth disc of Jeffreys’ songs – most of which were resurrected from oblivion in the 1960s before which he destroyed almost all his work. And on this collection there are eight given a first performance. Jeffreys’ music like that of Warlock bridges the Elizabethan and the early 20th Century – setting such 17th century lyrics as ‘Passing By’ and ‘Jillian of Berry’ as well as Shakespeare, Gurney, Wilfrid Wilson Gibson and other ‘Georgians’ yet retaining a uniquely individual voice. So acute is his sensitivity to the poems, that he has set several twice, thrice and even four times.

This is music for a quiet evening – in contemplation of some of the less complex emotions aroused by things fine and beautiful – all beautifully sung by James Gilchrist with Anna Tilbrook accompanying.

-- Colin Scott-Sutherland, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Awake thee, my Bessy by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
2.
She is all so slight by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
3.
Brown is my love by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
4.
Three roses by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
5.
Passing by by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
6.
Horror follows horror by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
7.
Severn Meadows by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
8.
From Omiecourt by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
9.
I am the gilly of Christ by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
10.
Drop, drop slow tears by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
11.
O my dere hert by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
12.
Corpus Christi by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
13.
Full fathom five by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
14.
When that I was by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
15.
O mistress mine by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
16.
All night under the Moon by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
17.
Little trotty wagtail by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
18.
She is ever for the new by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
19.
Jillian of Berry by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
20.
Song of Love by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
21.
The Falcon by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
22.
Black Stitchel by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
23.
The Far Country by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
24.
The salley gardens by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
25.
The Whin by John Jeffreys
Performer:  Anna Tilbrook (Piano), James Gilchrist (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 

Sound Samples

Awake, thee my Bessy
The Song of Love
Under the leaves green
She is all so slight
Brown is my Love
3 Roses (A White Rose)
Passing By
Horror follows Horror
Severn Meadows
From Omiecourt
The falcon
I am the gilly of Christ
Drop, drop slow tears
O my dere hert
Corpus Christi
Full Fathom Five
When that I was and a Little Tiny Boy
O Mistress Mine
Black Stitchel
The Far Country
All night under the moon
The salley gardens
Little trotty wagtail
The Whin
She is ever for the new
Jillian of Berry

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