“The music was a revelation, large enough for a vast space then suddenly intimate and unexpectedly lyrical, all rendered so beautifully.” Rosemary Pavey
“This CD selection of Smyth’s songs released in association with the theatre evening ‘Grasp the Nettle’ is a delight. The CD has something for the listening public at large for it reveals the less familiar youthful and intimate sides of Ethel Smyth; she was not all ‘let their be banners and music’.
Quite rightly, however, in this centenary year of women winning the first measure of female suffrage, Smyth’s most famous composition ‘The March of the Women’ is the final track in a particularly charming solo voice interpretation. The richness of Smyth’s creative life and her seriousness as a composer come across in this recording, beautifully sung and played by Lucy Stevens and Elizabeth Marcus.
In the middle of the recording and acting as an interlude between parts 1 and 2 of the song programme is the piano solo ‘Aus der Jugenzeit!!’, that Smyth wrote in her Leipzig student days and dedicated to Lisl von Herzogenberg, wife of her teacher. It’s a little jewel of a piece, albeit some have found the ending unconvincing but not here.
I was sorry there was not space enough to include all three of the Arthur Symons songs ‘Moods of the Sea’ but, understandably, not every Smyth song can be included on one disc; we can only enjoy and express our appreciation at such an imaginative recording project.
Whether bought as a souvenir of the ‘Grasp the Nettle’ production or not, it is a delightful conspectus of Smyth song ranging from her German student days to the songs of her maturity, settings of English texts, some with suffragette connections.”