- Eight Blake Songs; Peter Russell, baritone; Margaret Nielsen, piano
- Three Scots Ballads; Barry Mora, baritone; Margaret Nielsen, piano
- Three Medieval Carols; Pepe Becker, soprano; David Farquhar, piano
- Writing on the Sand; Pepe Becker, soprano; Anna Broadbent, violin;
- Three Cilla McQueen songs; David Griffiths, baritone; Terence Denis, piano;
- Five Songs of E. E. Cummings; David Griffiths, baritone; Christine Griffiths, piano
New Zealand Composer Edition / Classical / Voice
Notes from HALF A CENTURY OF SONG
My first composition at the age of eleven was a song. At St. Peter's School, Cambridge, I was surrounded with songs and hyns in school, class and chapel. It seemed natural to make up a song of my own though, strangely for such a musical school, there was no encouragement to compose. The song itself has disappeared though I remember the poem was about the sun and the moon, and ended with “… will my brother good morning, my sister good night-"
As with piano pieces of this period, I was at this stage my own performer. Later on I began to look for other singers: my father and a colleague of his at a sugar mill in Northern Queensland; and in my university days a real singer, Marijean Edmonds, who first performed my Blake songs.
In the early 1950's, I returned to Wellington after some years of study in England, and married Raydia d'Eisa, sparking off a burst of song writing. She was a poet, a lover and an inspiring reader of poetry and, like myself, an enthusiastic if unprofessional singer. I set one of her poems at this time in Six Songs for Women, and at a period her haikus in Writing on the Sand.
Gabrielle Phillips was among the women singers in Wellington at this time who sang my songs, also Emily Mair who first performed the Three Medieval Carols. For this recording, I was delighted to have Pepe Beeker, a specialist in Renaissance music, but singer also able to adapt to my very "unauthentic" setting of these 15th century poems. The predominant voice for male singers in New Zealand was, and is, baritone: Gerald Christeller, John McDonald, Donald Munro, Barry Mora, Peter Russell and David Griffiths. This accounts for the large number of baritone (or mezzo) songs in my output, and I'm grateful to them all - and others - for performances over the years.
The poems in these cycles come from a wide range of sources. As a nineteen-year-old I was grabbed by the simplicity and directness of Blake, and responded with my own simplicity and some naivety. Similar qualities in the Scots ballads (plus my Scots ancestry?) and the anonymous medieval carols drew me into their worlds. I heard Cilla McQueen read her Synaestesia in Wellington, was bowled over by its musicality, and delighted that she offered me a copy of the poem at that time not yet published. E.E. Cummings is a poet I have set many times in choral music and children's songs. His poetry is slow moving and lyrical - ideal for singing.
This retrospective collection concentrates on song cycles for solo voice, mostly with piano. But other sorts of vocal music - opera, choral music, songs for children - are also an important part of my output. In all its forms song is, I feel, a central part of music.