Scores for The “Songs of Solomons”
(ten songs for countertenor or contralto (or baritone) and piano)
are available here (each link opens a new tab):
Reviews in the media
of the CD "Songs of Solomons"
Review by Philip Scowcroft:
in the September 2001 issue of the BMS [British Music Society] Newsletter [no. 91]
Review from the Manchester Evening News 17 August 2001
David W Solomons: Songs of Solomons
Stephen Taylor, countertenor, Jonathan Leonard, piano
(New Century Classics NCC2003, GBP 8).
MANCHESTER composer David Solomons has written a number of gentle, wistful songs with lullaby like, harmonically slowly evolving piano accompaniments, which these soloists perform with obvious affection.
I actually prefer the cheekier comic numbers, especially his reworking of a familiar medieval lyric in a form suitable for hayfever sufferers: "Summer is i-cumen in, Ludhe sing tishoo".
It could be a useful encore piece for recitalists.
The echoey acoustic of the Oxford college chapel, where the recording was made, serves the voice well, but not so much the piano.
Review by Ian Milnes written on 20 May 2001 for the Dunelm website:
David W Solomons: The Songs of Solomons Stephen Taylor, countertenor, Jonathan Leonard, piano NEW CENTURY CLASSICS NCC2003 (GBP 8.00) I had not heard any music by David W Solomons before this CD arrived, yet I found all these ten songs immediately thoroughly enjoyable, interesting and varied. Some are humorous, which make good contrasts with the more serious (often moving) songs, thus producing a well-balanced programme lasting 37 minutes 36 seconds. The piano parts (two of which have been arranged from the original guitar accompaniments by Richard McHale) are superbly written, with contrasting textures, always transparent, over which the lovely voice lines float effectively. A variety of modes is used, adding to the overall interest.
Jim Pattison's recording is first-rate, making full use of the acoustics of Westminster College Chapel, Oxford, with excellent, sensitive and well-balanced performances by Stephen Taylor (counter-tenor) and Jonathan Leonard (piano).
The booklet is splendid, including the words of all the songs, and concise notes on the music, composer and performer, with their photographs.
Very highly recommended.
Information on the reviewer Ian Milnes
Ian Milnes (b.1943) grew up in a musical family in Leeds. At the age of eleven he took up the violin, and when thirteen he went on to the viola and began to compose. He achieved Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Textiles at Leeds University but the decline in this local, traditional industry led him to apply for the position of Tutor-Librarian at Leeds Music Centre (which became the City of Leeds College of Music in 1972) which he assumed in January, 1969.
In 1973, ill health forced him to resign his post there, and he became manager of the book and score departments of Banks' music shop in York. He taught some music and continued composing during this period. In 1979 he was appointed founding manager of The Bookland Music Shop in Chester, and is currently a member of the staff there, working on a part-time basis. Latterly, he has been teaching composition and acting as musical arranger/advisor on a Celtic opera initiated by a group of Chester poets and musicians whilst developing his reviewing and critical facilities.
He has been composing for 43 years during which time - being ever conscious of the needs of young musicians - he has written a variety of music for them to enjoy playing. In December, 2000, the first movement of his Sonatina in G major for viola and piano, WN106, (1991) was selected by the Guildhall School of Music, London as a set piece for its next string syllabus.
Dunelm Records has compiled two CDs of his music, DRD0058 (mainly of historical interest) and DRD0059 of modern recordings of 15 of his works.
And here are some reactions from various other listeners:
Canon Albert Radcliffe of Manchester Cathedral writes:
Thank you very much indeed for the CD, which I have played and enjoyed greatly.
Its subleties deserve to sell well. And though to my ear there are fine and distant echoes of Elizabethan lute songs, may you be another Schubert!
Natalie Mayer writes (in the Countertenors group):
Howdy folks - Natts piping up here, doing a bit of advertising.As those of you on the countertenors list know, the CD "Songs of Solomons" just came out recently.
It's a selection of songs written by our own David Solomons and performed by Stephen Taylor (countertenor) and Jonathan Leonard (piano). I think it's particularly charming and wonderful, with some very lyrical bits (particularly Rose), some very danceable things in 7 beat meter, a song about hay fever, and other such delicacies. Let's all show our support for countertenors and new art song by getting our own personal copies of the CD.
Stephen Taylor has a very lovely voice, by the way, and is well worth listening to.
Direct all inquiries to David himself please, and tell him Natts sent ya”
Two contrasting reviews on musicweb-international
The Swallows is based on an Armenian poem by the late Gourgen Mahari translated by J R Russell.
The flight and fate of the swallows represents the diaspora of the Armenian people after the 1915 massacre.
The limping 7/4 accompaniment emphasises the fatigue of these long-flying birds.
Habirando-san no Haiku is a setting of some Haikus by a University friend, Mark Haviland.
Mark's poems, in their natural beauty and simplicity, have inspired David to write many pieces over the years, but
this one is his favourite. It uses various Japanese modes in its short span - not exactly an "authentic" approach,
but nevertheless effective.
Ludhe sing tishu is a spoof of the old English round "Sumer is i-cumen in" and is dedicated to all hay-fever sufferers
everywhere. The words are by the composer. The force of the scored sneezes is all part of the fun.
The Quiet Way you move me is a lullaby for the Baby Jesus, which appears in a play called "Barabbas" by Nevil Frenkiel,
whom the composer met at a poetry reading in Maida Vale. The original intention was for the song to be sung
unaccompanied by a soft soprano voice, but the melody inspired by the poem also gave birth to a host of different
accompanying harmonies, of which this is just one.
Lookin' just lookin' is a humorous look at the personal "lonely hearts" ads, although the composer invented the actual
adverts in this song, to avoid possible late-night phone calls...!
The personalities advertising for the loves of their
lives in this song range in age from 24 to 92, they are all very genuine people, please don't hurt their feelings
as you snigger!
Rose is a setting of a poem by a Kurdish prisoner of conscience in Turkey (going under the pseudonym Iskan Acikca) translated into English specially for this song. The story is long and complicated and can be found on the www.akakurdistan.com website
if you would like to know the details. The poet longs to be free so he can rejoin his love and simply cultivate
his garden. This, in its effective simplicity, is the composer's favourite composition.
Greek Wassail A Wassail in fast 7/4 rhythm, like a slightly drunk Greek dance. The words are by the composer
and very tongue in cheek, but with an overlay suggesting a critique of the less "culturally inclined" holidaymaker!
Dawn in the Room : in this song the bereaved lover gains some brief consolation at dawn when the blond light penetrates his room and reminds him of the hair of his beloved.
He (or she) imagines the spirit of the beloved
speaking to him and giving him strength, perhaps, to face another day.
The poem itself is a family production involving mother, father and composer. The title is deliberately ambiguous, because "Dawn" could also be the name of the departed lover.
The mode of this song is Dorian, the composer's favourite mode.
Invitation to the journey is a setting of the composer's father's translation of a poem by Baudelaire.
It endeavours to evoke the rocking peaceful boat on the inland waters and the wild imagination of the poet tamed to restfulness. The final line, which is always the same in French, is transmuted very effectively into three different angles of meaning in the translation.
Christmas Haikus is a setting of haikus by Canon Radcliffe, former canon of Manchester Cathedral, where the composer regularly sang. The views of Christmas in these haikus are theologically and poetically sophisticated and far removed from the usual "Xmas" celebrations in which many of us indulge.
The symbols of nature (and the final symbol of sacrifice) take on a meaning reminding us of the true message behind the Christian story.
The mode of this song is octatonic.
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