A lullaby album for grown-ups

A lullaby album for grown-ups


norman lebrecht

June 29, 2018

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

What are we to make of songs that were written for people to sing and play at home, when nobody plays at home anymore? The great canon of so-called ‘art song’ (horrible term) has shifted from the drawing room to the public stage and, in doing so, has lost something of its intended intimacy and improvisation. It seems to be that English song suffers more in this transition than French or German. All too often, in a concert setting, the singer feels obliged to pop a peach in his/her mouth for a declamatory purpose…..

Read on here.

And here.



  • steven holloway says:

    I detect some confusion here. First, songs written for people to sing and play at home are called ‘parlour songs’, their heyday in the 19th. c. ‘Art Song’ is the English equivalent, good or not, of ‘lied’ and in the Classical tradition, e.g., Schubert, Wolf, et al. Parlour song conjures up “Just a song at twilight…”; “Pale hands I love…”; “Seated one day at the organ…”; “I dream of Jeannie…”; “Beautiful dreamer…”. The disc seems to be something of an oleo, perhaps, a mix of Parlour and Art. I can’t be sure from the info given. At any rate, I’m amused by the notion of Turnage, Tippett, Bridge and Ireland writing parlour songs.

  • Stephen says:

    There used to be good light orchestral music too – composers like Ronald Binge and many others – on the now historical BBC Light Programme. The general public in those days had more eclectic tastes than nowadays.

    • steven holloway says:

      Naxos has issued about five volumes of this lovely stuff — Binge, Coates, Vivien Ellis, Armstrong Gibbs, Anthony Collins, Addinsell, Arthur Benjamin….And there is much on YouTube, including ready-made playlists. It can be mighty nostalgic for BBC listeners of, um, a certain age. Vivien Ellis’ Flying Scot, e.g., was the theme tune for the series Paul Temple in the 50s. I was recently quite enchanted when I came across a waltz entitled simply ‘Dusk’, by Cecil Armstrong Gibbs. There couldn’t be a better example of this very distinctive genre, and I was enchanted.