â€˜Whilst looking through a bookshop in Malvern, Worcestershire, England, one Sunday, I happened upon a small book of poems by the poet John Drinkwater entitled â€˜Tidesâ€™ and dated 1917. The simplicity of the poetry immediately caught my eye and I decided to begin a song cycle using poems from the collection. I have called it Cotswold Songs.â€™ Colin Decio
The Cotswolds is an area of England about the size of greater Tokyo. The Cotswolds are well-known for gentle hillsides (â€˜woldsâ€™), sleepy villages and for being so â€˜typically Englishâ€™. The local honey-coloured limestone, used for everything has ensured that the area has a magical uniformity of architecture. They even demark the fields as â€˜Drystone wallsâ€™ built in the 18th and 19th centuries with skill using no cement. Colinâ€™s songs really capture the essence of this landscape and those described by John Drinkwater.
â€˜This new recording of Colin Decio songs and piano music provides us with 60 minutes of sublime music and listening. Performed by Soprano, Evelyne Beech with Colin Decio at the piano, this fine collection of contemporary songs and piano works give an insight to the great talent of Decio the composer. All the songs are beautifully crafted, and sensitively interpreted by Evelyne Beech whose bright timbre and clear diction allows you to experience the fullness of the poetry as well as Decio's imaginative musical line.â€™ P.A.M
â€˜Colin delivers a modern classical recording of originalsâ€¦the album represents a breadth and strength not commonly found in contemporary recordingsâ€¦powerful and thought provokingâ€™ Musician magazine
Some Track Notes:
Old Crow: involves three characters - the crow, the larks and the boy in the lane. Each of these characters has their own musical scene. The crow is symbolised by a folk-like tune, the larks by piano cascades and the boy with sombre chords.
Day: A triplet piano figure sets the scene as the sparrows gossip contrasted by strong chords for sunlight.
May Garden: is very still until the blackbird flutters his wings and then we hear a â€˜Holstianâ€™ short section which leads to a religious view of the daffodils. The last line â€˜to make the world magnificentâ€™ is accompanied by bells.
The Lechers: The piano accompaniment is in consecutive fifths throughout whilst the melody line is very chromatic.
Plough & Cotswold Love: are joined together in this song. The snow falls gently. Listen for Gloucester, Rodboro, Campden, Amberley and briding Cotswold girls with â€˜slyly tilted shoeâ€™.
Venus in Arden: begins with clanging dischords as love goes by all forlorn. Listen again for Warwickshire, Cantlow brakes and Wilmcote hill. The contrast comes in the dreamlike section of â€˜Athenian riversâ€™.
Flowers: sets the rebellious poetry of DH Lawrence. A veritable â€˜tour de forceâ€™ for the soloist Flowers has recently been scored for soloist and full orchestra.
Waltz: is from Sontata 1 and was first premiered by the wonderful John Ogdon in 1986. A simple theme is developed into a manic dance which ends with repeated bottom â€˜Aâ€™s on the piano.
The Character Songs: are a really quirky collection â€“ the poetry says it all!
Despite Colinâ€™s sometimes chromatic and angular style he retains a strong melodic line for the singer to bring out the story within the song. Colin keeps alive the tradition of pastoral and â€˜folk-likeâ€™ songs of composers such as Gustav Holst and Vaughan-Williams. Although inspired by Shostakovich, & Holst his compositions remain distinctly Decio and characteristically bear the hallmark of his Anglo-Ukrainian roots, which he incorporates to great effect not only in his songs, ~Black Sun, but also in his piano ~Jews of Old Prague, and orchestral works (featured elsewhere). Colin remains deeply moved by the historical events of the holocaust.
We really hope you enjoy the tracks â€“ play them over a few times and youâ€™ll be hooked!
About DecioBeech duo:
Evelyne Beech and Colin Decio came together in 2001 in order to collaborate on a new, two-part recital project rediscovering the enchanting music of the French Masters and bringing alive the new music of Decio.
Colin Decio was born of mixed Ukrainian and English parents. He studied piano and composition at the Birmingham Conservatoire graduating with five diplomas in piano performing, teaching and composition and winning several major awards.
Colin has studied with Robert Saxton, John Joubert, John Ogdon, Bryan Kelly, Ernst Meyer and Robert Simpson, and is himself a prolific composer of vocal, piano, organ, chamber and orchestral works - already numbering in excess of a hundred.
"â€¦bordering on the sublime"
Evelyne's extensive repertoire ranges from Baroque to Contemporary music and with Scottish/French parentage she has a natural empathy with French Song.
Winner of the Reginald Bussell Cup in 1992 Evelyne's bright soprano voice is tinged with a silvery French tone and has been compared to Britain's Emma Kirkby and France's Mado Robin.
Evelyne made her debut at the Purcell Room, Royal Festival Hall London, in February 2002 where she premiered vocal works by Peter Wyer and Gilbert Biberian with the Tippett String Quartet for the Japanese festival of Light.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Old Crow
3. May Garden
4. The Lechers
5. Plough & Cotswold Love
6. Venus in Arden
8. The Jews of Old Prague (piano Solo)
9. Wearing a Happy Hat
10. The Spinning Wheel
11. Unlucky One Eyed Jack
12. I Wandered Along By the Waterside
13. The Headless Bird
14. The Black Sun
15. Waltz (piano Solo)