“Nearly all Bliss's songs are here (only a few orchestral ones are omitted) but they're of uneven quality and are presented in almost random order, with no sense given of Bliss's development as a songwriter. It was a mistake to include the Two Love Songs, which are in fact the vocal movements of Bliss's beautiful Serenade for baritone and orchestra. Kathron Sturrock, throughout a wonderfully musical and responsive accompanist, does her best to make Bliss's piano reductions seem pianistic; but despite her they just sound clumpy.
The finest songs here are mostly on the second disc. Kathleen Raine's poems drew the best from the composer – simple eloquence, bold, shining gestures and memorable images including a fine nocturne: they're masterly, and would alone make investigating this pair of discs worthwhile.
Geraldine McGreevy sings them simply, purely and very movingly, as she does the progression from lyric charm to bare strength of The Balladsof the Four Seasons. Also on CD2 is The Tempest; this vivid storm scene is all that survives of some 1921 incidental music to Shakespeare's play, set with striking originality for two voices, trumpet, trombone and five percussion players. Things of such quality are rarer on CD1, though the ThreeSongs to poems by W H Davies are all strong, Bliss's setting of When I was one-and-twenty has a blithe insouciance, and several of the other sets contain pleasing discoveries, like the elegantly witty 'A Bookworm' from A Knot of Riddles or the charming 'Christmas Carol' that opens FourSongs. McGreevy is the best of the singers, but both Herford and Spence are committed advocates.
The best of these songs (about half) are of a quality to make their present neglect seem inexplicable.”
“Kathleen Raine's poems drew the best from Bliss: simple eloquence, bold, shining gestures and memorable images including a fine nocturne: they are masterly, and would alone make investigating this pair of discs worthwhile. Geraldine McGreevy sings them simply, purely and very movingly”