David W Solomons | Songs of Solomons

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Classical: Art songs Classical: Vocal Music Moods: Type: Lyrical
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Songs of Solomons

by David W Solomons

Lyrical songs for countertenor and piano, some funny, some yearning, all memorable.
Genre: Classical: Art songs
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Dawn in the Room
5:03 $0.99
2. Haviranosan No Haiku
2:56 $0.99
3. Ludhe Sing Tishu
1:29 $0.99
4. The Quiet Way You Move Me
4:45 $0.99
5. Greek Wassail
1:28 $0.99
6. The Swallows
6:03 $0.99
7. Rose
3:05 $0.99
8. Invitation to the Journey
6:39 $0.99
9. Christmas Haikus
2:26 $0.99
10. Lookin' Just Lookin'
3:37 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
David W Solomons was born in Oxford in 1953 and has lived in various parts of England, France and Hong Kong. He graduated from Oxford University in Modern Languages, but went his own way in music, teaching himself the arts of singing, guitar playing and composing. His compositional style is relatively retrospective, concentrating on the lyrical, and he makes full use of the possibilities offered by the use of modes, especially various oriental modes (Middle Eastern and Japanese), the Dorian and octatonic, as well as the better-known major and minor modes.

He currently lives in Sale, Cheshire and works in Manchester as a translator.
He sings alto with various choirs at Manchester Cathedral and composes secular and religious works for choir, solo voice, organ and various chamber groups, many of which have been heard in performance in places as far afield as Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Latvia, and the USA as well as the United Kingdom, and also in recorded form on the Internet and on various CDs.

This CD comprises ten of David's songs for alto/countertenor and piano, written over several years.

It was recorded on 26-27 January 2001 in the chapel of Westminster College, Oxford, where David did his postgraduate studies in 1976 and where some of his first compositions were performed in college concerts.


Stephen Taylor: Countertenor
Stephen Taylor began his career as a chorister at Ely Cathedral. He read Music at Durham University and currently sings at New College Chapel. He also performs with the Tallis Scholars, Chapelle du Roi, Magnificat and I Fagiolini and has taken part in many prestigious performances with The Academy of Ancient Music, Académie Sainte Cécile and various duets with James Bowman.
He also teaches and conducts in places as far afield as Tewkesbury and Wilanow in Poland.

Jonathan Leonard: Piano
Jonathan Leonard began his musical training in Bristol, where he was organ scholar at the Cathedral. He then went on to read music at Durham University and was also organ scholar there at University College.

He has played as recitalist in many cathedrals in the UK and has also recorded for the BBC. He was recently appointed Director of Music at St Luke's Chelsea and also conducts various choirs.

Works performed

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.

Haviranosan no Haiku (= Haikus of Mr Haviland) is a setting of some Haikus by a University friend called 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 (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 really want 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 sings. 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.



to write a review

Reinhold Behringer

Great music by a master of the counter-tenor!
On this CD, counter-tenor Stephen Taylor performs 10 songs by the contemporary UK composer David Solomons, accompanied on the piano by Jonathan Leonard. The recording was done in January 2001 in Oxford, in the chapel of the Westminster College.
David Solomons is himself a counter-tenor and, therefore, knows the matter of this almost forgotten art very well, which nowadays has a very exotic touch.

The lyrics of the songs include poems by the Solomons family and translations from Japanese, Armenian, Kurdish, and French poets. Each song describes a different topic and mood, spanning such a wide range from love, religious spirituality, nature, dance joy, political persecution, to a sneeze caused by hay fever.
The style is retrospective melodic, in David Solomons' very special eclectic way of combining traditional western harmonies and modes with oriental (Middle Eastern and Japanese) modes, Dorian, and octatonic as well. Unconventional rhythms (like 7/4) spice the arrrangements up. Listening to the songs is a pure pleasure, and the few shortcomings of the sound engineering post-processing do not impact the listening experience at all.

The CD itself and the packaging is very professionally made - design by www.horizonmusicproduction.com, featuring an original painting by Rayna L. Harris on the title page. The included booklet has the lyrics of the songs and some additional interesting notes.

If you are sick of run-of-the-mill recordings of main-stream music which you heard already a thousand times, I can recommend to buy this CD with its fresh and unconventional contemporary music by a living composer!