Born in Bradford Raymond joined the choir of St Philip's aged eight. After winning a silver cup at the Blackpool Festival in 1932 he made six records for HMV between Jan. & Sept. 1933, but the early breaking of his voice later that year curtailed his career as a boy soprano. His life is sketched in more detail in Stephen Beet's book "The Better Land" (2005). Raymond died in 1997.
Herman Klein wrote in "The Gramophone" (December 1933), "There is in this boy's voice a dark, rich colour and a beauty of texture that are quite exceptional. The same adjective applies to his breath-control, the evenness of his scale, the depth and maturity of his expressive power. His style is characterized by a degree of natural feeling that has the similitude of passion which we know cannot be real in a boy, but which evidently induces his teacher to give him songs that call for strong underlying emotion . . ."
Raymond Kinsey A: C.F. Gounod (1818-93): Ave Maria (religious song 1853-59, here sung in Engl.) (matrix 2B3557-7, rec. 1933) B: M.B. Foster: Oh! for a closer walk with God (For details of this piece please see under Thomas Meddings) (2B3558-4, rec. 8 Sept. 1933) With organ accomp. by R. Arnold Grier. The multiple takes indicate that his voice was already beginning to change. Review in "The Gramophone" (Dec. 1933, p. 278f) quoted at top of page. The second item is available on Amphion CD "The Better Land" vol. 5.
Raymond Kinsey A: J.S. Bach (1685-1750) (Cantata No. 68, 1725): My heart ever faithful (matrix 2B6513-1) B: J. Haydn (1732-1809) ("The Creation", oratorio 1798): With verdure clad (2B6514-1) Both rec. 24 Apl 1933 with orch. accomp. "Both musically and vocally . . . a greater achievement still." (Review by C.M. Crabtree in "The Gramophone" July 1933, p. 61.) Both items are available on Amphion CDs "The Better Land" vols. 4 & 5 respectively.
Raymond Kinsey Two pieces by G. F. Handel (1685-1759): A: Rejoice Greatly (from oratorio "Messiah", 1742) (matrix 2B6269-1) B: Let the Bright Seraphim (from oratorio "Samson", 1743) (2B6270-2) Both rec. 6 Feb. 1933 (when he was a month short of 13 years) with orch. accomp. "A brilliant record . . . unusually bright timbre to his voice . . . his runs are almost perfect, and easy." (Review by C.M. Crabtree in "The Gramophone" May 1933, p. 478.)
"Outstanding Records of the Month - Remakable New Boy Soprano. Another real 'find' by His Master's Voice is the thirteen-year-old boy soprano, Raymond Kinsey, who is something in the nature of a phenomenon. Without any hesitation I class him as the most wonderful singer of his age the gramophone has ever known - and I am not forgetting the popular Master Lough when I write this. Young Kinsey has a flute-like voice which is amazingly even throughout the whole of a very extensive compass; but, more than this, he has the golden gift of perfect pitch, and his firm and sure attack must be heard to be believed. On this, his first record, he is given two exacting Handelian arias to sing - Rejoice Greatly and Let the Bright Seraphim - and his beautifully unfaltering phrasing of their long roulades is worthy of any coloratura soprano. This lad will go far if not overworked, for he should have at least a couple of years' voice left him - and there is no doubt as to his vocal stamina." (Review by Hubert S. Ryan in The Talking Machine and Wireless Trade News, London, May 1933, p. 81.)
Both items are available on Amphion CDs "The Better Land" vols. 5 & 4 respectively.
The choristers of St Nicholas' College Chislehurst feature by popular request in their famous 'Brother James' Air and O Lovely Peace. Master Thomas Criddle's amazing voice has excited much comment by reviewers and singing teachers. ----------------
This disc is quite remarkable for the wide range of vocal qualities and styles displayed, spanning a period of nearly 60 years. The two tracks by John Gwilym Griffith (new to CD) are alone worth the price of the disc, being sung with exquisite tone, style and feeling. Walter Lawrence, the New York choirboy, shows us in a track from 100 years ago, an amazingly easy vocal mastery of coloratura in "Rejoice Greatly" (Messiah), despite the slightly hurried tempi necessary to fit the (abridged) aria onto a 4-minute disc. The French song on his other track is another example of excellent technique and breath control. Thomas Criddle again shows a very attractive, pure, clear voice and good style in his May 1943 items. Frank Bird (also newly on CD), sounding younger than his 15¼ years, is a fine example of the English parish choirboy between the wars.
Other tracks are perhaps not quite as pleasurable, but rewarding in their own way as historically illustrative. Michael Lumb and John Evans-Pugh sing in an over-refined or "precious" manner now outdated and probably not to most tastes. Robin Fairhurst lacks the necessary "steel" in his voice and has less than ideal breath control, while Raymond Kinsey (so prized in volumes 4 & 5) here sounds tired in a laboured account of Gounod's "Ave Maria". Mansel Squire's rendering of "I know that my Redeemer liveth" (Messiah) is rather curious: worryingly hesitant and inexpressive, without the progress from conviction in the opening lines, through triumph to awe and wonder at Divine grace, which the very best singers bring to the piece. He is not helped by an uninspiring organ accompaniment. One can only assume that limited studio time precluded a re-take.
In summary, with a total playing time of 76 minutes this is a valuable document for those interested in the singing styles of boy soloists (both choristers and entertainers) since the earliest days of recording and the disc bears repeated careful listening.
Order directly from Stephen Beet to avail of the special price: Each CD is £10 plus postage.
The Better Land set of six CDs is £55 plus postage. (This includes a copy of Mr. Beet's book "The Better Land - In search of the lost boy sopranos." Please contact Mr. Beet StephenRBeet@gmail.com. PayPal address: email@example.com Prices quoted in Euro and other currency on request.
You can order the Better Land CDs directly from producer Stephen Beet for £10.00 plus post and packing. £55 for the set of 6 CD's (which includes, as a special offer, Stephen R. Beet's book "The Better land - in search of the lost boy sopranos" E-mail for postage quotes: StephenRBeet@gmail.com
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Master Derek Barsham Recorded 30 Apl. 1947 (AR11093 & 11094), with Gladys Palmer, contralto, Norman Lumsden, bass & London Symphony Orchestra cond. Stanford Robinson. Issued June 1947 on Decca K.1601. ["Better Land" the two parts separately in vols. 3 & 4]
Available from the producer at £10 plus postage, or £55 plus postage for the set of 6 CD's (which includes as a special offer Stephen R. Beet's book "The Better Land - in search of the lost boy sopranos"
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As well as chapters on Iwan Davies, Derek Barsham, and Denis Wright, amongst others there are also chapters under the following headings: The Temple Boys, The Manchester Boys, The Music Hall Boys, The Fleeting Boys, and The Broadcast Boys.
This book is available directly from the author: Contact StephenRBeet@gmail.com
Price £10 plus postage
This book is available for the cost of postage and packing only if the set of six The Better Land CD albums is ordered.