A 25 disc celebration of the richness and diversity of British Song

Various Artists

NAXOS 8.502507 (25 Discs)

In The Story of Naxos (Piatkus 2012), the music journalist Nicholas Soames says that the ambition of the company’s founder, Klaus Heymann, was to record the complete (valid) repertoire of all classical music, and during the last 30 years or so he and his associates have gone a long way to achieving that ambition. 

I would be certain that we all have Naxos issues – which are outstandingly good value – in our personal libraries.

The Naxos English Song Collection is a massive contribution to this corner of the market, niche doubtless, but with a faithful following amongst artists and listeners.  Clearly, I cannot review it in the normal sense (at the approved level the word count would be around 10,000) but at least I can express a warm welcome and much enthusiasm for this remarkable issue.

The track listing can be viewed on-line as detailed above.  15 mostly prominent English composers feature from Alwyn to Warlock, with substantial contributions from Britten, Finzi (all the song cycles), Holst, VW, and, I am pleased to say, Ian Venables.

The list of artists too, is impressive and includes such luminaries as Felicity Lott, Gerald Finley, Roderick Williams, and Iain Burnside.

This collection consists of reissues of recordings made between 1995 and 2014, so they are modern digital compilations of high quality. Full details can be found on the Naxos website.

Amazon, inter alia, is offering the set at around £67 which equates to £2.60 a disc. 

Or, in other words, this is about the same outlay as required to fuel your car.

Review by Geoffrey Atkinson