Early Music Review

It is appropriate that this CD should be mentioned in EMR even though only three of the pieces it includes were written before the middle of the 20th century. Deller was an important figure in the development of the post-war early music revival, not just for his counter-tenor voice but also for the Deller Consort, which he formed with the purpose of giving historically informed performances of early music. Michael Tippett and Morley College are also central to this story. It was Tippett who discovered Deller’s countertenor voice at Canterbury Cathedral and engaged him to sing in concerts at the College, where Walter Bergmann was already accompanist to Tippett’s Morley Choir. Bergmann was to become one of Deller’s main accompanists. This CD starts with his Pastorale for counter-tenor and recorder, dedicated to Deller and first performed by him in Canterbury in 1946, and ends with his attractive set of Three Songs for countertenor and guitar, which deserve to be better known. Both Bergmann and Tippett were associated with the music publisher Schott and its early music publications. Tippett’s Four Inventions for two recorders were written for the Society of Recorder Players, of which he became President, and first performed by Walter Bergmann and Freda Dinn.

Another composer associated with Morley College was Peter Racine Fricker whose Elegy: The Tomb of Saint Eulalie , Op. 25 for counter-tenor, cello and harpsichord was first performed by Deller with Desmond Dupré and George Malcolm at the Wigmore Hall in 1955. The longest and probably best known work on this recording is John Blow’s Ode on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell for two counter­tenors, two recorder and continuo, which is positioned between two trio sonatas for recorders and continuo, in A minor by William Williams and in F by Handel. I like the way good breaks are made between the tracks to maintain separation between this very interesting collection of dissimilar pieces. The informative booklet contains comprehensive notes about all the music and an introduction by Mark Deller.

—Victoria Helby