Donny Diva Lesley Garrett releases new album

garrettjd'Opera singer Lesley Garrett. Picture by Simon Fowler/Decca Records.
garrettjd'Opera singer Lesley Garrett. Picture by Simon Fowler/Decca Records.

Britain’s Best Loved Soprano, Lesley Garrett, releases her fourteenth solo album, ‘A North Country Lass’.

In the folk- inspired, classical tradition of Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst and Benjamin Britten, Lesley Garrett returns to her north country, folk music roots to record an inspired collection of British and Irish songs, with powerful authentic instrumentation providing a dramatic contemporary sound.

“This is a classical folk album and people may come to it with certain preconceptions, but please don’t do that - this album is intensely individual and very personal and it will surprise you.”

Reunited with music director Paul Bateman and producer James Fitzpatrick, with whom she worked on her first five hit albums, Lesley has mined more than six centuries of traditional music. She has selected sixteen songs that range from Henry VIII’s ‘Pastime With Good Company’ and John Dowland’s ‘Fine Knacks For Ladies’, the 17th century’s ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’ and title track ‘A North Country Lass’, to the more recent Welsh lullaby ‘Suo Gan’ and as a bonus the complete version of ‘On Ilkley Moor Baht’at’

arranged for soprano, brass band and choir.

Having gathered together some of Britain’s finest composers/orchestrators, many of whom are well known to Lesley, including Paul Hart, Andrew Skeet, Nic Raine, Paul Englishby, Mark Thomas, Nicholas Dodd, Julian Kershaw and Paul Bateman, Lesley found the creation of each new song to be a thrilling

process:

“Our highly talented team of composers and arrangers brought their unique personal skills and backgrounds to each of their songs, tailor-making them to suit my own talent and ability. Thus each arrangement is extremely varied, highly individual and very exciting. When we were recording, it was like opening Pandora’s Box every day. I would find such wonderful music and it was a joy to hear these folk songs shine in a fabulous new way.”

‘A North Country Lass’ features the award-winning City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Paul Bateman, augmented by traditional instruments played by renowned soloists. These include Troy Donockley on Northumbrian pipes, Irish Bodhrans played by Terl Bryant, folk fiddle by Bradley Creswick, Scottish Bagpipes played by Robert Jordan, Hungarian cimbaloms by Mikael Horsak, bamboo flutes and recorders by Martin Cech and Japanese kotos by Gareth Williams. The ever popular Crouch End Festival Chorus provides the additional voices and is joined by Yorkshire’s own award-winning Black Dyke Mills Band for ‘On Ilkley Moor Baht’at’, “...so interesting and modern with a little bit of opera in it. Just complete fun.”

A fascinating record that mixes the traditions of folk and classical music, the album paints an evocative soundscape of Britain “It mixes the wonderful British ‘Thomas Hardy’ feeling of our bucolic countryside with wild coastal seascapes and the bleak industrial archaeology of the North. So it’s bitter sweet, it’s hot, it’s chilly. It’s Far From The Madding Crowd meets Peter Grimes, but with humour!”

“Folk music is in all of us, it is the country’s unconscious musical heart- beat. It is a resilient and flexible art form and for centuries its inspiration has provided composers and performers alike with a creative point of departure for their own imaginations. Just think of the ‘Songs of the Auvergne’! I grew up with folk music and then grew into an opera singer. I have brought all that I have to this album, my past and my present, and I hope that this marriage of the traditional and the modern will enable the listener to find something beautiful and new in these much- loved songs. “

‘A North Country Lass’ has treated these popular tunes in a special and unique way and Lesley is understandably and justifiably proud of this powerful recording.

‘A North Country Lass’ Tracklisting:

The Bold Grenadier (Traditional arranged by Julian Kershaw)

All Around My Hat (Traditional arranged by Andrew Skeet)

Once I Had A Sweetheart (Traditional arranged by Paul Bateman)

Blow The Wind Southerly (Traditional arranged by Paul Hart)

He Moved Through The Fair (Traditional arranged by Paul Englishby)

Pastime With Good Company (Henry VIII arranged by Steven Baker)

Suo Gan (Lullaby) (Traditional arranged by Mark Thomas)

The Raggle Taggle Gypsies (Traditional arranged by Andrew Skeet)

The Cuckoo (Traditional arranged by Nicholas Dodd)

The Collier Lad (Traditional arranged by Paul Hart)

My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose (Robert Burns arranged by Dave Heath)

Fine Knacks For Ladies (John Dowland arranged by Adam Saunders)

A North Country Lass (Traditional arranged by Paul Bateman)

Dance To Your Daddy (Traditional arranged by Troy Donockley And Julian

Kershaw. Middle Section Composed By Troy Donockley)

Over The Hills And Far Away (Traditional melody, lyrics By George Farquhar

For His Play The Recruiting Officer From 1706, arranged by Nic Raine)

On Ilkley Moor Baht’at (Traditional arranged by Paul Bateman)