Desmond Casey A: Danny Boy (incipit: O Danny Boy, the pipes are calling.) (wds F.E. Weatherly (1848-1929), who in 1913 arr. the old Irish tune "Londonderry Air", which appears first to have been publ. in 1855) B: Love's old sweet song (song, 1884: wds Graham Clifton Bingham (1859-1913) - music James Lynam Molloy (1837-1909)) Rec. late? 1932?
"[He] has a good voice and uses it very well, on the whole, perhaps with somewhat exceptional ease." (From review in "The Gramophone" March 1933, p. 399.)
"Desmond Casey certainly has an unusual voice, and Parlophone have brought it all the way from Australia. He is not of the ordinary 'piping' boy soprano type, for in addition to being clear and pure in his tones, there is a rich quality not often found in boys. Also he has a sense of interpretation." (Anonymous review in "The Sound Wave" [London], March 1933, p. 91.)
The accomp. is not given in either the review or advertisement in "The Gramophone", nor in Parlophone's 1934 catalogue.
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 Michael Lumb and John Evans-Pugh sing in an over-refined or "precious" manner now outdated and probably not to most tastes.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: firstname.lastname@example.org Prices quoted in Euro and other currency on request.
This page last modified on Sunday, February 18, 2007