Sunday, March 30, 2008

france v england

"Sweet Is The Song": Catherine Bott @ The Purcell Room, 30th March

Shirley Collins, an important figure in English folk music over the last fifty years, has been responsible for putting on a series of concerts at the Southbank Centre this week. In this last-but-one in the series fellow-singer and friend Catherine Bott, sang some songs from Collins's repertoire * along with some French medieval love songs from her own album "Sweet Is The Song". The French songs, in their sparse, unaccompanied form were quite difficult to come to terms with on an initial hearing but the English ones, accompanied by David McGuinness's chamber organ, were easier to size up.

Collins herself was on hand to give some interesting historical background: some of the songs were collected by Vaughan Williams in the early 1900s, others were passed down to her by her own grandparents in West Sussex; two of them lamented the young men of the villages of Southern England, taken away by press gangs to fight in the Napoleonic wars.

Quite an enjoyable selection and always good to broaden horizons a bit but this gig was really one for the folk aficionado and no doubt that there were plenty of those in the audience. As with the jazz at the Bulls Head last week, it's interesting to see another example of the many different music communities which exist in the UK. **

* Songs from the repertoire of Shirley Collins, arranged by Dolly Collins:
** See also What Happened to Radio 2?

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