(1971) Various Artists – Music From Iran

•February 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Argo issue numbers: ZFB 51

Recorded in Meshed (tracks A2, B2) and Tehran (A1, B1) by Deben Bhattacharya in 1955

Production and sleeve notes by Deben Bhattacharya

Hossein Saba – santour (track A1)
Jabad Aliyani – tar (A2)
Sher Koda – chant and zarb drum (B1)
Eskandare Ebrahimi – setar (B2)

Click on a track title and the track will play in a new window.


Side A
Shur on santour
Shur on tar

Side B
Mahour on setar


Tracks A1 and A2
If you’re into finding out just what it is you’re listening to here, the shur is one of the 12 dastaghs (musical modal systems) around which Persian music is organised. The dastagh is explained here and the shur here.

Track B1
Recital of parts of the Shahnama (Book of Kings), Iran’s national epic poem, completed in the year 1010 by Ferdowsi. Take an online audio tour of the poem here, courtesy of the Cambridge Fitzwilliam Museum.

Find out more about Ferdowsi here.

Track B2
The mahour is another of the dastaghs. Find out about it here.

Hossein Saba
Haven’t found anything out about the other three, but Hossein Saba (track A1) was born in Tehran in 1924. He studied the santour and the piano and graduated from the Tehran Conservatory of Music as a piano major in 1949. He went on to teach both instruments at the School of National Music.

The year after this recording (1956) he published the first method for the santour. When the National Instruments Orchestra was founded at the School of National Music, Saba was offered the position of lead santour soloist. He died from a brain tumour in 1957, at the age of 36.


Thanks and praises to bolingo once again for passing me a copy.


(1968) Various Artists – Voices (6 vols)

•December 7, 2010 • 2 Comments

VOICES – an anthology of six long-playing records of sounds, music, song and speech presented in association with Penguin Education

Argo issue numbers: DA 91-96 (six LPs), re-released 1970 or 1971 as PLP 1112-17

Edited by: Geoffrey Summerfield
Produced and directed by: Harley Usill and John Gilbert

Mike Newby
Sidney Bradley
David King
Peter Orr
Freda Dowie
Tony Church
Yvonne Bonnamy
Frank Duncan

Original Recordings – Performers/Musicians

Children of Archbishop Holgate’s Grammar School, York
Children of Heslington Primary School, York
Choir of Trinity School, Croydon
Staff and students of York University
Freda Dowie
Richard Orton
Jane Phillips
Patrick Harrex
Moray Welsh

The Critics Group
Terry Yarnell
Bob Blair
Tom Paley
John Faulkner
Sandra Kerr
Phil Colclough

In the listing below, the folk music tracks are given in italics. Where possible, sources of musical tracks taken from earlier Argo and Decca recordings are given at the end of each listing. Not sure yet which of the poetry and prose readings are original recordings made for the anthology.


Band 1

Noises – knives sharpening
Band 2
The Devil’s Nine Questions (trad) – Peggy Seeger (1)
The Devil’s Polka – Ilona Porma kantele (2)

Band 3
Jabberwocky (Herbert) – n. Mike Newby, Archbishop Holgate’s Grammar School children percussion
Child’s bouncing song (Connor) – Children of Heslington Primary School, York
Jane, Jane (trad) – Shirley Collins & Davy Graham (3)
Band 4
Old Man’s Song (Mellers) – Trinity School, Croydon choir, c. David Squibb
Toward The Grave – Kaarina Kuivalainen vocal, Onno Kuivalainen kantele (4)
Band 5
The Seafarer excerpt – n. Sidney Bradley, read in Anglo-Saxon
Man Cursing the Sea (Holub) – n. David King
Sea Interludes (Storm/Britten) – Royal Opera House (London) Orchestra, c. Benjamin Britten (5)

Band 1

Pastoral (trad) – Sicilian shepherd playing open pipe
Shepherds’ Fire (Clare) – n. Peter Orr
Aunt’s Tantrums (Barnes) – n. Freda Dowie
Turf Carrier on Aranmore (Hewitt) – n. Peter Orr
Derby Ram (trad) – Peggy & Mike Seeger unacc. (6)
Band 2
Church bells – sound of bells in Zurich, Switzerland in Bolby B
Bells of Rhymney (Seeger/Davies) – Terry Yarnell & The Critics Group
Band 3
What’s What (Reid) – n. Tony Church
Narnian Suite (Harrex) – staff & students of York University, primary school children spoken chorus
Band 4
Chant before battle – David King
Janos Hary excerpts (Kodaly) – LSO c. Istvan Kertesz (7)

(1) from The Long Harvest Vol 2, Argo ZDA 67, 1967
(2) from Music from the Far North – Argo ZDA 127, 1967
(3) from Folk Routes New Routes – Decca LK 4652, 1964
(4) from Music from the Far North – Argo ZRG 533, 1967
(5) from Decca SXL 2150-2, 1959
(6) from Peggy ‘n’ Mike – Argo ZDA 80, 1967
(7) from Hary Janos – Decca SXL 6136, 1965



Band 1
Noises – noises of lions, tigers, elephants, monkeys and tropical birds
Band 2
Enigma Variations, XI (Elgar) – London Symphony Orchestra, c. Malcolm Sargent (1)
Band 3
The Gallows (Thomas) – n. Yvonne Bonnamy
Kangaroo (Lawrence) – n. Frank Duncan
Folk Rhymes – Freda Dowie vocal
The Badger (Clare) – n. Peter Orr
Hedgehog (Clare) – n. Frank Duncan
Hedgehogs Sniffing and Eating – recording
The Fox (Clare) – n. Frank Duncan
Band 4
Ketjak (Monkey Dance) – Gamelan Orchestra from Pliatan (2)

Band 1

Violin Concerto, excerpt 1st movement (Sibelius) – LSO, c. Oivin Fjeldstad, Ruggiero Ricci violin (3)
Band 2
Thief in the Night (Lawrence) – n. Tony Church
Ploughing on Sunday (Stevens) – n. Freda Dowie
Band 3
Autumn (Kato) – n. David King
Nocturne from Serenade for tenor, horn and strings (Britten) – Peter Pears tenor, Barry Tuckwell horn, LSO c. Benjamin Britten (4)
Band 4
Cherry Tree Carol (trad) – Peggy Seeger, vocal and banjo (5)
Boy at the Window (Wilbur) – n. Yvonne Bonnamy
Winter (Clare) – n. Freda Dowie
Winter Piece (Tomlinson) – n. Frank Duncan
Band 5
Symphony No 7 (Vaughan Williams) – London Philharmonic Orch. C. Adrian Boult (6)

(1) from Enigma Variations – Decca LXT 2786, 1953
(2) from Music from Bali – Argo RG1-2, 1952
(3) from Sibelius, Violin Concerto D minor – Decca SXL 2077, 1959
(4) from Nocturne from Serenade, Decca SXL6110, 1964
(5) from The Long Harvest, Vol 8 – Argo ZDA 73, 1967
(6) from Sinfonia Antartica – Decca LXT 2912, 1954



Band 1

Entrance of the Emperor (Kodaly) – LSO, c. Istvan Kertesz (1)
Band 2
There Was a Man (Crane) – n. Yvonne Bellamy
The Nightmare (Wang Yen-Shou) – n. Tony Church
A Fire-Truck (Wilbur) – n. Yvonne Bellamy
Band 3
Strigaturi De Nunta (trad wedding dance) – Maria Popa (vocals) and gypsy musicians from Lazareni (2)
At a Country Fair (Hardy) – n. Freda Dowie
Roome for Companie (trad) – The Critics Group, John Faulkner vocal plus whistle and drum
Band 4
Royal Fireworks Suite Movement 4 (Handel) – LSO, c. George Szell (3)
Band 5
The Casualty (Ted Hughes) – n. David King
Band 6
Rumba – El Sali and his Band Espagnol (4)

Band One

Tod Und Verklarung excerpt (Richard Strauss) – Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, c. Herbert Von Karajan (5)
Band Two
First Blood (Stallworthy) – n. Frank Duncan
Blue Moles (Plath) – n. Yvonne Bellamy
The Mosquito (D.H. Lawrence) – n. Tony Church
Band Three
Le Festin de l’Araignee (Roussel) – L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, c. Ernest Ansermet (6)
Band Four
Original Sin (Jeffers) – n. David King
Old Blue (trad) – Peggy Seeger vocal and banjo (7)
Travelling Through the Dark (Stafford) – n. Frank Duncan

(1) from Hary Janos Suite – Decca LXT 6136, 1965
(2) from Music from Rumania – Argo ZRG 531, 1967
(3) from Decca LXT 5666, 1962
(4) from El Sali and his Ballet Espagnol – Flamenco! – Decca LK4787, 1966
(6) from Decca LXT 5035, 1955
(5) from Decca LXT 5629, 1961
(7) from Poetry and Song Vol 1 – Argo DA 50, 1967



Band One

False Friends-like (Barnes) – n. Freda Dowie
Band Two
Cancion del amor dolido (Falla) – Marina de Gabarain, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, c. Ernest Ansermet (1)
Girl, Boy, Flower, Bicycle (Joseph) – n. Yvonne Bonnamy
Crow Sat on the Willow (Clare) n. Frank Duncan
Scarborough Fair (trad) – Frankie Armstrong and Sandra Kerr unacc. (2)
Band Three
Song (Clare) – n. Yvonne Bonnamy
The Great Silkie (trad) – Bob Blair
Reuben Bright (Robinson) – n. Tony Church
Band Four
Amores (Cage) – Richard Orton prepared piano, Jane Phillips percussion, Patrick Harrex percussion, Moray Welsh percussion

Band 1

Johnny Armstrong (trad) – John Faulkner unacc.
Night Wind (Clare) – n. Frank Duncan
North Wind (Whittemore) – n. Freda Dowie
Band 2
Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (Strauss) – Vienna Philharmonic, c. Von Karajan (3)
Band 3
John Henry (trad) – Tom Paley (4)
Scialoma (trad) – Sicilian fishermen (5)
Gresford Disaster (trad) – Critics Group, John Faulkner vocal
Band 4
Choirmaster’s Burial (Hardy) – n. David King

(1) from El Amor Brujo – Decca LX 3151, 1956
(2) from Poetry and Song vol 4 – Argo DA 53, 1967
(3) from Decca LXT 5620, 1961
(4) from Poetry and Song, vol 7 – Argo DA 56, 1967
(5) from Sicily in Music and Song – Argo DA 30, 1965



Band 1

Dustbowl Song (Guthrie) – Tom Paley vocal and banjo
Follower (Heaney) – n. David King
Hay for the Horses (Snyder) – n. Frank Duncan
Band 2
I am (Clare) – n. Yvonne Bonnamy
Africa’s Plea (Dempster) – n. David King
Telephone Conversation (Soyinka) – n. Tony Church
Black and White (MacColl) – John Faulkner and Sandra Kerr
From William Tyndale to John Frith (Bowers) – n. Frank Duncan
Band 3
Dance of the Knights (Prokofiev) – Orch. De la Suisse Romande, c. Ernest Ansermet (1)
Band 4
Sair Fyeld Hinny (trad) – Bob Blair unacc.
Soup (Sandburg) – n. Frank Duncan
Epitaph on a Tyrant (Auden) – n. David King
Leader of men (MacCaig) – n. Tony Church
Band 5
Dārbāri Kānadā (raga for the second quarter of the night) – Jyotish Chandra Chowdhury on surbahar (bass sitar) (2)

Band 1

Miralogia (trad) – Nicholas Halkias clarinet, with ‘three female voices’ (3)
Jesus and his Mother (Gunn) – n. Yvonne Bonnamy
The Unquiet Grave (trad) – Sandra Kerr unacc.
Band 2
Father and Child (Yeats) – n. Tony Church
Strawberries (Morgan) – n. Yvonne Bellamy
Ou Phrontis (Causley) – n. Tony Church
Frankie and Johnny (trad) – Tom Paley, vocal and guitar
Band 3
Kije’s Wedding (Prokofiev) – L’Orchestre de la Societe des concerts du Conservatoire de Paris, c. Adrian Boult (4)
Band 4
Magpies (Glover) – n. Freda Dowie
Death and the Maiden (Nemerov) – n. Yvonne Bonnamy
For Sale (Lowell) – n. Tony Church
Father Dunman’s funeral (Hardy) – n. Frank Duncan
Last mystery (Stallworthy) – n. David King
Band 5
Soleares (trad) – Paco Peña guitar (5)

(1) from Romeo and Juliet – Decca SXL 2306, 1962
(2) from Ragas From Benares – Argo ZRG 559, 1968
(3) from Greece in Music and Song – Argo DA 29, 1965
(4) from Decca LXT 5119, 1956
(5) from El Sali and his Ballet Espagnol – Decca SLK 16825, 1966



Band 1

Latest Decalogue (Clough) – n. David King
Grey October (Peggy Seeger) – Peggy Seeger (1)
Band 2
Guns firing – sound effect
Anthem for Doomed Youth (Owen) – n. Peter Orr
Parable of the Old Man and the Young (Owen) – n. Tony Church
Big Muddy (Pete Seeger) – Tom Paley vocal and guitar
Defence (Silkin) – n. Frank Duncan
Band 3
Victory Dance – villagers from Himalayan village of Tuinem (2)
Death (Yeats) – n. David King
Musee des Beaux Arts (Auden) – n. Yvonne Bonnamy
Twin of Sleep (Graves) – n. Tony Church
Band 4
Death of Tybalt (Prokofiev) – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, c. Ernest Ansermet (3)

Band 1

Trap (Stallworthy) – n. David King
Birds (Wright) – n. Yvonne Bonnamy
Red Cockatoo (trans Waley) – n. Frank Duncan
Wedgebury Cocking (trad) – Critics Group, Phil Colclough vocal
Band 2
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (Stevens) – n. Freda Dowie
Four Seasons, Spring, 1st movement (Vivaldi) – New Philharmonia Orchestra, c. Stokowski, Hugh Bean violin (4)
Band 3
Four Seasons, Winter, 2nd movement (Vivaldi) – New Philharmonia Orchestra, c. Stokowski, Hugh Bean violin (5)
Saying from the Northern Ice (Stafford) – n. David King
Snow (Thomas) – n. Yvonne Bonnamy
Band 4
God’s Grandeur (Hopkins) – n. Tony Church
Lament (Stallworthy) – n. David King
Felix Randall (Hopkins) – n. Tony Church
Acension (Messiaen) – Simon Preston organ (6)

(1) from The Angry Muse, Argo DA 83, 1968
(2) from Music from The Himalayas – ZRG 530, 1967
(3) Death of Tybalt – Prokofiev, Romeo and Juliet Suites, Decca SXL 2306
(4) and (5) from Decca LK 4873, 1967
(6) from Argo ZRG 5339, 1963



Here’s a nice summary of what these records are all about, courtesy of a review in The Gramophone in January 1969:

“Briefly, Argo and Penguin Education have collaborated to produce a set of records to complement the latter’s threebook anthology of poetry and pictures entitled Voices. The anthology is edited by Geoffrey Summerfield, of the York University English and Education departments, costs 25s. 6d. for the three books and has been very well received. The books give the visual and literary side; each record deals with a special topic (heroes, winter, jealousy inter alia) and adds further dimensions through natural, musical and ‘prepared’ sounds. Bands of a disc enclose elements of the topic, so the inbuilt variety might give you some Kodaly, a Rumanian wedding dance, Hardy’s poem on a country fair, a folksong and a movement from Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music. On another side, a Balinese choir, sniffing hedgehogs, a John Clare poem and an Enigma variation will find common ground.

“Although there appears to be no financial package deal, I would think that many people will want to buy both discs and books as it is rather difficult to absorb the poems at first hearing. In any case, one angle that the discs add is musical settings of established poems—two excerpts from Britten’s Serenade appear in this context. The orchestral music, from existing first-class recordings, is programmatic, thus adding possibilities of mime and spontaneous drama to the inexaustible discussion-points of musical and poetic imagery. Mr Summerfield’s introduction, which usefully appears on all six record-leaflets is stimulating, particularly on creative music-making.”

(More on the people responsible for putting this fantastic teaching aid together and how it was received in the classroom when I find my notes)

(1973) Various Artists – Giles Farnaby’s Dream Band

•December 2, 2010 • 1 Comment

Argo issue number: ZDA 158
Produced by: Kevin Daly
Recorded by: Iain Churches
Sleeve notes: Kevin Daly

Availability: long deleted by Argo; issued on CD in 2004 by German label Valhalla (WH90324)


St George’s Canzona:
Frank Grubb – rebec, recorder
John Grubb – lute, harpsichord
Derek Harrison – rebec
John Lawes – crumhorn, recorder
Mike Oxenham – crumhorn, clarinet, curtal, recorders
John Sothcott – citole, crumhorn, rebec, recorders, whistle
Leila Ward – crumhorn, recorders

Trevor Crozier’s Broken Consort:
Trevor Crozier – vocals, banjo, cittern, guitar, harmonica, mandolin
Annie Crozier – concertina, bowed psaltery
Vic Gammon – concertina, guitar

The Druids – vocals
Judi Longden
Keith Kendrick
John Adams
Mick Hennessy

Jeff Clyne – bass guitar
Dave MacRae – electric piano
Trevor Tomkins – drums, percussion


Side One
1 The Hare’s Maggot (trad. arr Gammon)
2 Rufty Tufty/Beau Stratagem/Apply House (trad. arr Gammon)
3 The Hole In The Wall/The Chirping Of The Nightingale (trad. arr Sothcott)
4 Pastime With Good Company (Henry VIII arr Adams/Sothcott)
5 Daphne (trad. arr Sothcott)/Nonsuch/Jack Maggot/Childgrove (trad. arr Gammon)
6 Shrewsbury Lasses (trad. arr Sothcott)
7 Newcastle Brown (Sothcott/Daly)
8 Helston Furry Dance (vocal Trevor Crozier)/Picking Of Sticks/The Butterfly (trad. arr Sothcott)

Side Two
1 The Indian Queen (trad. arr Sothcott)
2 The Happy Clown (trad. arr Sothcott)
3 Ratcliffe Highway (trad. arr Adams/Sothcott)
4 The Twenty Ninth Of May (trad. arr Sothcott)
5 The Black Nag/Poor Robin’s Maggot/Greensleeves (trad. arr Gammon)
6 Portabella (trad. arr Sothcott)
7 The Draper’s Maggot (trad. arr. Grubb)/Tower Hill (trad. Arr. Grubb)
8 Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot (trad. arr Gammon) /The British Toper/Londons Glory (trad. arr. Sothcott)

Producer Kevin Daly’s sleeve notes

“Giles Farnaby’s Dream Band make an entirely new medieval-electric sound. Formed by linking the medieval St George’s Canzona with the folk trio Broken Consort, the resulting band brings together early and present day instruments in imaginative and unique performances of some of the most tuneful and infectious music of all time.

“Most of the titles on this album are taken from ‘The English Dancing Master, published by John Playford, Britain’s first ever music publisher. The Tin Pan Alley of 1655 was situated near the Temple Church in London, and it was from a tiny shop near the church door that Playford’s publications were sold.

“The English Dancing Master or ‘Plaine and easie rules for the dancing of country dances, with the tune to each dance’ was first published in 1651, during the period of Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan Commonwealth. It was an austere time, with most of the old customs forbidden: dancing, profane singing, wakes, revels, ringing of bells, maypoles were all banned as dangerous to the security of the nation, and it seems a curious time to publish a collection of dance music. Playford’s own explanation was simple…’I publish this book lest the tunes be forgot’…

“The volume was immediately successful and went into several editions over the next twenty years (in fact it is still in print today). A possible reason for its popularity might have been that although Parliament abolished most forms of merry making, the Lord Protector himself seems to have enjoyed the occasional revel and given dancing a subdued show of approval…

“14th November 1657: ‘On Wednesday last was my Lord Protector’s daughter married to the Earl of Warwick’s grandson; and on Thursday was the wedding feast kept at Whitehall, where they had 48 violins, 50 trumpets and much mirthe with frolics, besides mixed dancing (a thing heretofore accounted profane) till five of the clock yesterday morning.’

“The first West End appearance of Giles Farnaby’s Dream Band.”

(1971) The Songwainers – The Songwainers

•December 2, 2010 • 5 Comments

Argo issue number: ZFB 31
Producer: Frederick Woods
Engineer: Iain Churches
Cover photo: Donald Bott

Availability: long deleted, never released on CD

Ken Langsbury – baritone
Ron Taylor – tenor
Dave Stephenson – bass


Side One
1 Robin Hood and the Three Squires
2 The Three Knights
3 The Deadly Wars
4 Stormy
5 Tom O’Bedlam’s Song
6 Old Jonas

Side Two
1 News From Holland’s Leager (words adapted from broadsheets by The Songwainers)
2 Bright Phoebus
3 The Old And New Courtier
4 The False Fox (tune Songwainers)
5 The Glittering Dewdrops
6 George Ridler’s Oven
7 John Barleycorn (tune Schulz)

(1967) Various Artists – Music from Rumania

•November 24, 2010 • 1 Comment

Argo issue numbers: 1967 as RG 531 (mono) ZRG 531 (stereo); re-released in 1969 as ZDA 125 and as ZFB 41 in 1971

Recorded in Romania in 1965 and produced by Deben Bhattacharya

never issued on CD in toto, but tracks A4, A5, A6, B4 appear on the CD Music on the Gypsy Route Vol 2 (Fremaux & Associés, 2003)

Maria Rusu – vocals (A1, A2)
Folk orchestra of Palatul Culturii, Brasov, conducted by Dan Moisescu (A1,A2)
Mircea Nîţu – cimbalom (A3)
Ion Dragoi – cimbalom (A4)
Nicolae Netotu – violin (A4)
Folk orchestra of Olteniţa, directed by Constantin Preda (A5, A6)
Constantin Preda – first violin (A5)
Ion Florea – cimbalom (A6)
Laura Lavric – vocals (A7)
Ilie Cazacu – fluier (A8)
Petruţ Tarana – cobza (A8)
Viorel Mîndrilă – bucium (A9)
Maria Popa – vocals (B1, B3)
Gypsy musicians from Lazareni, Transylvania (B1)
Gavril Tent – violin (B2)
Maria Sălăjan– vocals (B3)
Ferenc Antal – violin (B4)
Rudolf Tóni– viola (B4)
Ferenc Berki – double bass (B4)
Emil Bozbici, Ilie Trif, Ioilă Persică – trisca (B5)
Larion Marica – caval (B6), trisca (B5)
Maria Precup – vocals (B7)
Stoica Gheorghe – violin (B8)(B11)
Unnamed musicians (viola, double bass) from Cojocna Transylvania (B8)(B11)
Mihai Lăcătus – tilinca (B9) birchbark whistle (B10)

Here’s a map of where Deben Bhattacharya recorded on the field trip. The numbers refer to the locations given in the track listing below. Click on it to enlarge.


Side A

From Brasov (1)
1 Răsărit-a Găinusa (love song)
2 Inflorit-a rugutu (love song)

From Cimpulung, Muscel (2)
3 Doina (lyric-song)
4 Hora (round dance)

From Oltenita (3)
5 Sîrbâ Tsiganească (gypsy dance)
6 Cîntec si Hora lăutărească (song and round dance)

From Radauti, Moldavia (4)
7 Foaie verde foica vita (love song)

From Cimpulung, Moldavia (5)
8 Trilisesti (dance music)
9 Improvisation on bucium

Side B

From Lăzăreni (6)
1 Wedding Dance (in Romanian Strigături de nunta)
2 Talandar (dance music)
3 Doina (lyric-song)

From Mera (7)
4 Marching music (march for conscripts)

From Lesul Ilvej (8)
5 De-a mină (melody of love-song)
6 Invirtită (dance music)
7 Doina (lyric song)

From Cojocna (9)
8 Slow dance from Pata

From Cimpulung, Moldavia (Câmpulung Moldovenesc) (5)
9 Bătută (dance music)
10 Farmer’s Wedding (Carpathian folk tune)
11 Tărăneasca (farmer’s dance)

I wonder how the recordings for this album were made. It was 1965. Ceausescu had just come to power and moves were under way in Romania towards liberalisation and away from dependence on the USSR.

But ‘cultural interaction’ with the non-communist world was still very limited, foreigners were still regarded with considerable suspicion and there was no way Deben Bhattacharya was going to be allowed to wander around the countryside with a tape recorder and no chaperone.

He will have had to apply to the communist authorities for permission to make the field trip, presumably seeking the prior blessing of the leadership at the Romanian Folklore Institute in Bucharest.

Did he apply to them with a specific itinerary in mind or did he place himself in the hands of his hosts? Who knows? But the fact that several of the musicians and singers appearing on this album had previously been recorded by Romanian folk music collectors (as far back as the 1930s) suggests that he may have been nudged into accepting a route decided (at least in part) by the good comrades in Bucharest.

I only mention it because, as far as I can tell, this was the first post-war recording field trip carried out in Romania by a foreigner. Should it be seen as evidence of the cultural thaw under way?

Topic, Folkways and Columbia
True, the UK label Topic had issued an album of field recordings from Romania in 1958 (Rumanian Folk Music, Topic 10T12), but that was a compilation by A. L. Lloyd of pre-recorded tracks handed over to the label by the Romanian Folklore Institute.

Same again for the Folkways 1958 album ‘Romanian Songs and Dances’ (notes by A. L. Lloyd). Pre-recorded tracks from the Institute’s archives, including several by the same performers as appear on the Topic album.

And same again for the early ‘60s Columbia album ‘The Folk Music of Romania’ (Volume XVIII of its World Library of Folk and Primitive Music – it’s no longer available), which was compiled and edited from the Institute’s archives by Lloyd in collaboration with Alan Lomax and the Institute’s Tiberiu Alexandru. Many of the same performers as on the two earlier albums, and in some cases the same tracks.

And same again for all those other Rumanian folk albums that found their way on to record racks and mail order catalogues in Paris, London and New York in the 1950s and early 1960s courtesy of labels like Artia, Supraphon, Period and Bruno.

Prior to Bhattacharya’s field trip, every album of ‘authentic’ Rumanian folk released to the English-speaking ethnic music market had been mediated by the state-sponsored Romanian folklore behemoth, the Institute, which had its own (Marxist) perspective on the theory and practice of folk music, old and new.

Does it matter?
Does it matter that many of the performers on those albums were, despite Lloyd’s careful description of them as ex-loggers or workers on collective farms, almost certainly semi-professionals or members of state-sponsored folk ensembles and orchestras set up in Romania in forced imitation of the Soviet folkloric model?

Does it matter that some of the songs they sang weren’t traditional, but examples of Romania’s ‘new folk’ – contemporary creations reflecting ‘the social consciousness of the Romanian people’?

Does it matter that the style of some of the recorded ensembles was already standardising away from the local/regional towards some kind of ideology-driven national hybrid?

Well, from this distance, yes and no. But those issues certainly mattered at the time.

Romania’s ‘new advanced forms of folk music’
The issues were discussed at some length, for example, when the great and good of the folk world gathered in the posh, leafy suburbs of Bucharest in August 1959 for the annual conference of the International Folk Music Council

Imagine the horror from some of those attending when the Romanian Folk Institute’s Mihai Pop told the conference that ‘the idealisation of outdated forms (of folk music) with acceptance of their absolute value’ was getting in the way of making ‘new advanced forms’ of folk music.

Imagine the consternation from others when the Institute’s Sabin Dragoi (whose brother Ion appears on one of the tracks on this album) briefed the conference about the appearance in Romania of “a rich production of the new type of melodies which have begun to edge their way into the folklore circuit, and in various parts of the country even to exert an influence upon the melodic patterns of the songs”.

According to Pop: “…the representative popular character of folklore is an historically determined aesthetic-ideological category expressing the essential and progressive interests of the popular masses at a given time…Contemporary folklore reflects a collective feeling based upon a community of interests and aspirations, binding town dwellers to villagers and peasant to worker in a common effort to build up socialism.”

Needless to say, there were those who didn’t agree.

Maud Karpeles, a stalwart of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, told the conference that a distinction had to made between music made by the people and music made for the people; folk songs in a class society did not necessarily reflect the struggle against the ruling classes, she insisted.

Image distorted, tracks dropped
Of course there was no happy resolution to the differences of opinion (over half a century later they’re still a live topic on folk music internet boards), but it’s worth noting here that when Rounder re-issued the Columbia World Library album on CD in 2001, five of the original tracks were dropped.

“Triumphalist, artificial, predictable, and conforming to official aesthetic criteria….they gave a distorted image of musical life in Romania,” said editor and compiler Esperanţa Radulescu in her liner notes.

She suggested that the Communist authorities may have imposed those pieces on the Institute’s Alexandru and that Lloyd and Lomax would have had little choice but to accept. But would Lloyd and Lomax have been that bothered?

In his defence of Romanian ‘new folk’ to the 1959 Conference, Lloyd (an apostle of the links between folk music and the masses’ struggle) said that social influences had been helping to shape folk music since the dawn of musical history and suggested a new definition of folk music was called for, with anonymity no longer being a sine qua non.

Song of the Five Year Plan
A quick aside: to get an idea of the kinds of shenanigans the comrades from the Romanian Folklore Institute occasionally got up to when out collecting and cataloguing ‘new-folk’ songs in the 1950s, check out this article by Florinela Popa.

‘Song of the Five Year Plan’, ‘On the collective farm when I hear the doina’, ‘I sing to Stalin the great’. They’re all there. Plus a brief assessment of the creative socialist development of the ubiquitous Barbu Lautaru Traditional Orchestra, who appear on all three of the A.L. Lloyd-curated albums (discussed above) and on many more besides.

So what has all this got to do with Deben Bhattacharya’s recordings made in 1965 and issued on this Argo album? Well, if nothing else, it raises questions about just what it is you’re listening to and how it ended up on the record.

At least one contemporary reviewer thought he smelt a rat, and complained that there was “more commonplace professional band music than we would like” on the disc, particularly on Side A (check track 2 and see what you think).

“It is not just the fact that professional Gypsy bands are included which disappoints us; it is rather that these bands are partly those of the local ‘culture institutes’ whose style seems to have been taken from that of the large radio ‘folk orchestras’ of Bucharest.”

In a review for the Gramophone magazine, W. A. Chislett had a different opinion of the ‘gypsy-style music’ on the album: “…more often than not we in this country hear it either in idealised or adulterated form. It is good to have it in its raw authenticity”.

My guess is that the ‘commonplace, professional’ tracks that caused offence to the reviewer may have been the price Bhattacharya had to pay to keep his hosts sweet. To my ears a lot of the rest of the album sounds ‘raw and authentic’, but I’m no expert.

I suppose this ending up recording who got put in front of your microphone by the authorities went with the territory, especially if the territory was part of the Soviet empire. Bhattacharya seemed to have the same problem when he visited Uzbekistan in 1970 and ended up recording the National Folk Music Orchestra instead of ‘true folk musicians’.

“It’s kind of like the difference between the stylized “folk music” (as a genre) by the Kingston Trio, vs. the real, and emotionally haunting power of, say, Clarence Ashley or Dock Boggs at their best. It’s two different worlds,” says a review of Bhattacharya’s Uzbek stuff on Amazon. Quite like the Kingston Trio myself.

Constantin Brailoiu
Focusing on the ideology-driven aspect of folk music collection in post-war Romania only tells part of a long story that began in the 19th century when Brahms and Liszt were into Romanian folk music. After that, of course, there was Bela Bartok, who famously collected in Transylvania before the First World War and probably did more to familiarise the world with the country’s folk melodies than anyone else (even Taraf de Haidouks).

Serious collecting began with Constantin Brailoiu (pictured on the right recording in Dragus in 1929), the father of Romanian ethnomusicology (A. L. Lloyd was a big fan), who made recordings throughout the inter-war period for the folk archives of the Society of Romanian Composers.

The Society released a large number of recordings before the war through domestic labels such as Lifa and Cristal (which later became Electrecord) and a variety of foreign ones including Odeon, Columbia and HMV. There was even a recording made – with the collaboration of the English Folk Song and Dance Society – in Decca’s London studios in 1935 during an international folklore festival.

Brailoiu went into self-imposed exile in 1944 in Switzerland (where he had been working as a cultural attaché) and founded the International Archives of Folk Music (Archives Internationales de Musique Populaire, AIMP). He’d taken some of his field recordings with him when he left Rumania and came up with a plan – “to collect in Geneva, in a laboratory equipped for the purpose, materials that would be in sufficient numbers and quality to allow the study and confrontation of original melodies from all regions of the world”.

In the 13 years before his death in 1958, the AIMP collected some 250 wax cylinders and over 1,300 78 rpm records of music from all over the world, plus several hundred hours of recorded tapes, with written documentation. With backing from the International Council of Music and UNESCO, a 40-volume set of records entitled World Collection was issued between 1951 and 1958 – the first set of records of its type ever published. Romania was represented in the anthology by four 78s.

Back in Rumania
Meanwhile, back in Romania (as in all the other Soviet satellite states) folk music had become a massive state enterprise, promoted by the state-run media, driven locally by centrally-controlled cultural associations and supported by the state-run recording monopoly Electrecord.

Brailoiu, officially at least, was a non-person (if not a traitor) and the recordings he left behind were subsumed into the archive of the Romanian Folklore Institute set up by the communist authorities in 1949.

Tainted it may have been by a slavish following of Marxist folkloric theory (what were they going to do? say no?), but the Institute added significantly to the pre-war archives and issued important traditional and ‘new folk’ recordings, works of scholarship and print anthologies, with former colleagues of Brailoiu like A. L. Lloyd’s collaborator Tiberiu Alexandru playing a leading role. By 1961 the Institute was said to have over 70,000 recordings in its archive and was planning to transfer those most at risk on to tape.

There’s an interesting article on the Romanian recording industry around the time this record came out here.

For a comprehensive account of the recordings made under the auspices of the Romanian Folklore Institute – currently known as The ‘Constantin Brailoiu’ Institute of Ethnography and Folklore (he was rehabilitated – as far as I can tell, in the late ‘sixties) – click here.

When Brailoiu died in Switzerland in 1958, the AIMP stopped functioning. His life’s work was left abandoned in a store room of the Museum of Ethnography in Geneva: dozens of metal tins and old cardboard boxes filled with 78 rpm records and wax cylinders, a vast number of dusty paper bundles, barely tied with string, all of which were moved around the building periodically to provide space for documents which were deemed more important.

Since then they’ve been salvaged (find out more). And you can hear his Romanian collection here.

Rumania Gobbles Yank Music?
Can it really be true that in 1947, two years into the glorious liberation of Romania by the Red Army, the nation’s favourite music was American? That’s what a dispatch from Bucharest in the US music magazine Billboard said in May 1947.

“Music picture here adds up to one solid ‘Sold – American’ and this holds true not only in the pop and jazz departments, but among the longhairs as well,” the dispatch said.

Despite exorbitant prices, discs by Sinatra, Crosby, Shaw and Goodman were selling out in a single day; most Romanian dance bands were chiefly playing American tunes; and “concerts featuring records by top American jazzmen draw crowds which are compared better than favourably with the number of cats who dig live concerts in the US”.

Read more here.

RG 400-499 (mono), ZRG 5400-5499 (stereo)

•November 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment

More of "The English Poets" series, the end of the marathon effort to record all of Shakespeare’s plays (Pericles), continuing collaborations with the British Council, the label’s first foray into educational recordings (Rhyme and Rhythm) and the release on disc of the first of the BBC’s Radio Ballads (John Axon) after protracted negotiations.

Spoken word in yellow, classical (dominated by choral and song) in grey, and miscellaneous – including several albums of Irish songs – in green.

RG 400
ZRG 5400
Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, dir Neville Marriner Handel – Six Concerti Grossi, Op 3 1964
RG 401 Coghill, Davis, Barrow Chaucer – Canterbury Tales Prologue June 1964
RG 403 Johnson, Orr, Squire The English Poets – John Donne 1964
RG 404 Stride, Watson, Bonnamy, Holmes, Orr, Church, Squire, Marquand The English Poets – The Metaphysical Poets – Religious 1965
RG 405
ZRG 5405
Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, dir Guest Hymns for all Seasons 1964
RG 406
ZRG 5406
Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, dir Guest English Cathedral Music – Walmisley, Nares, Goss, Wesley 1964
RG 407-
RG 410

ZRG 5407-
ZRG 5410

Marlowe Society, plus Wymark, Wordsworth, Squire, Garland, Lehmann, Scales et al, dir Rylands Shakespeare – Richard III 1964
RG 411-
RG 413

ZRG 5411-
ZRG 5413

Marlowe Society, plus Squire, Duncan, Hordern, Orr, Church, Watson, King, McCarthy, Scales, Rawlings, Richer. Dir Rylands. Shakespeare – Pericles 1964
RG 414-
RG 417

ZRG 5414-
ZRG 5417

Various artists incl. Pat Shuldham artists including Pat Shuldham Shaw, Esme Lewis, Choir of Hamsptead Garden Suburb School, Spike Milligan, Prunella Scales etc

Rhyme and Rhythm – poems and songs for children (4 vols)

RG 418
ZRG 5418
Peter Pears (tenor), Benjamin Britten (piano) Joan Dickson (cello) Twentieth-Century English Songs – Ireland, Bridge, Richard Rodney Bennett, Rainier 1964
RG 419
ZRG 5419
Simon Preston (organ) Bach – Sechs Chorale von verschiedener Art
Mozart – Fantasia in F minor K 608/ Fantasia in F minor and major K 594
RG 420
ZRG 5420
Simon Preston (organ) Reger – Toccata in D minor and Fugue in D major/Chorale Fantasia, Straf’ mich nicht in deinem Zorn

Reubke – Sonata on the 94th Psalm

RG 421-2
ZRG 5421-
ZRG 5422
Philomusica of London, dir George Malcolm Bach – The Art of the Fugue 1965
RG 423
ZRG 5423
Choral and Song Choir of St Michael’s College, Tenbury, cond. Nethsingha Sing Joyfully – anthems by Tallis, Morley, Tye, Gibbons, Britten 1965
RG 424
ZRG 5424
Elizabethan Singers dir. Louis Halsey, Wilfrid Parry (piano) Benjamin Britten – Part Songs 1964?
ZRG 5425 Dartington String Quartet, Katherina Wolpe, Leonardo Wind Quartet, Joan Dickson, Margaret Kitchin Elisabeth Lutyens – Bagatelles, two quartets
Ian Hamiton – Cello Sonata, Three Pieces for Piano
ZRG 5426 Richard Rodney Bennett (piano), Susan Bradshaw (piano), John Alldis Choir, in assoc. British Council Choral Music – Gardner, Lutyens, Joubert, Naylor 1965
RG 427 Stride, Watson, Bonnamy, Holmes, Orr, Church, Squire, Marquand. Dir Rylands, assoc. British Council, OUP The Metaphysical Poets – Secular 1965
RG 428

Alan Bates, Bonnamy, Devlin, Johnson, Marquand, Orr

William Blake – Poems

RG 429

Orr, Squire

William Wordsworth – The Prelude (excerpts)

RG 430
ZRG 5430
Stephane Caillat Chamber Choir, cond. Caillat Milhaud – Cantata Les Deux Cites, Cantate de la Paix
Poulenc – Motets, Lauds
RG 431 Church, Redgrave, McCarthy John Milton – Paradise Lost Book 1 1965
RG 432 Church, Redgrave, Devlin, Rylands, Wymark, McCarthy, Orr, Burrell John Milton – Paradise Lost – Book 2 1965
RG 433 Devlin, Squire, Watson English Poets – John Milton 1965
RG 434
ZRG 5434
Bernadette Greevy (contralto), Harold Cray (bass), Our Lady’s Choral Society, Radio Eireann Light Orchestra sextet, Radio Eireann Symphony Orchestra, cond. Doyle Ireland Mother Ireland (anthology of Irish songs) 1965
RG 436
ZRG 5436
King’s College Cambridge Choir, Cambridhe Universirty Musical Society, Andrew Davis (organ), John Langdon (organ), cond. David Willcocks Thomas Tallis – Selections 1965
RG 437 Robert Donat Robert Donat reading Poetry 1965
RG 438
(part from RG 41 1955)

Burton, Neville, Hardy, Bonnamy, Devlin

Samuel Taylor Coleridge – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

RG 439
ZRG 5439
Peter Pears (tenor), Benjamin Britten, Alan Bush, Viola Tunnard (piano), assoc. British Council Peter Pears – English Songs 1965
RG 440
ZRG 5440
Roger Parker (treble), Michael Pearce (counter-tenor), Forbes Robinson (bass), Marisa Robles (harp), Brian Runnet (organ), St John’s College Choir, cond. George Guest Britten – Rejoice in the Lamb, Missa Brevis, A Ceremony of Carols 1965
RG 442
ZRG 5442
Roger Lord (oboe), Academy-of-St. Martin-in- the-Fields, dir. Marriner Handel – Instrumental Works 1965
ZRG 5443 Grayston Burgess (counter-tenor), Gerald English (tenor), John Frost (baritone), Robin Stenham (treble), Robert Tear (tenor), Jihn Whitworth (counter-tenor), Osian Ellis (harp & voice), Desmond Dupre (plectrum lute & guitar), Joan Rimmer (psaltery), Christopher Taylor (recorder), Christopher Wellington (viola), Frank Ll Harrison (music director) Medieval English Lyrics 1965
RG 444
ZRG 5444
Roger Parker (treble), Charles Brett (counter-tenor), Robert Tear, Wilfred Brown (tenors), Christopher Keyte, Christopher Bevan (baritones), Inia Te Wiata (bass), Choir of St. John’s College, Cam-bridge, Brian Runnett (organ), Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields con. George Guest Purcell – Music for the Chapel Royal 1964
RG 446
ZRG 5446
Elizabethan Singers cond Louis Halsey Sir Cristemas  (a collection of carols) 1965
RG 447
ZRG 5447
Simon Preston (organ), rec. in Westminster Abbey Messiaen – La Nativite du Seigneur 1966?
RG 449

Curran, O’Sullivan, Norton, Manahan

William Butler Yeats – Poems

RG 450
ZRG 5450
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge A Festival of Lessons and Carols 1965
RG 451

Various poets read their own works. Recorded in assoc. with British Council and Harvard University. 

The Poet Speaks Vol 1 – James Reeves, David Jones, William Plomer, C. Day Lewis

RG 452

Various poets read their own works

The Poet Speaks Vol 2 – Norman Nicholson, Stevie Smith, W.R. Rodgers, Vernon Watkins, Edward Lowbury 1965
RG 453

Various poets read their own works

The Poet Speaks Vol 3 – John Heath-Stubbs, Thomas Blackburn, Laurnece Whistler, John Press, Julian Ennis 1965
RG 454

Various poets read their own works

The Poet Speaks Vol 4 – Tony Connor, Thomas Kinsella, Elizabeth Jennings, Peter Redgrove 1965
RG 455

Various poets read their own works

The Poet Speaks Vol 5 – Ted Hughes, Peter Porter, Thom Gunn, Sylvia Plath 1965
RG 456

Various poets read their own works

The Poet Speaks Vol 6 – Nineteen Poets – John Ardin, Michael Baldwin, Taner Baybars, Patricia Beer, George Mackay Brown, John Fuller, Michael Harnett, Hamish Henderson, David Holbrook, James Liddy, George MacBeth, Christopher Middleton, Adrian Mitchell, Ruth Pitter, Herbert Read, Edward Thomas, Anthony Thwaite, Rosemary Tonks, David Wevill 1965
RG 457
ZRG 5457
Marisa Robles (harp) Harp Music of Spain 1966
RG 458
ZRG 5458
Marisa Robles (harp) Harp Music of France 1966
RG 459
ZRG 5459
Bernadette Greevy (contralto), Radio Eireann Light Orchestra sextet, Mercedes Bolger (harp), Jeannie Reddin (piano) Over here (Irish Songs) 1966
RG 460
ZRG 5460
Our Lady’s Choral Society with Bernadette Greevy, Harold Gray & Radio Eireann Light Orchestra cond. Col James Boyle Let Erin Remember 1966
RG 463

Church, Johnson, Scales, Duncan, Redgrave, dir Rylands

John Milton – Paradise Lost Books 3 and 4 (abridged)

RG 464 Church, Redgrave, Watson, Johnson, Scales, Hordern, Marquand, Croucher John Milton – Paradise Lost Books 5-6 1966
RG 466 Nevill Coghill, Norman Davis The English Poets – Chaucer – Canterbury Tales/Nun’s Priest Tale 1966
RG 467
ZRG 5467
Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields dir. Neville Marriner Mendelssohn – String Symphonies 1966
RG 468

Various Artists. Dir Barry Cassin and Noel MacMahon, music by Gerard Victory.

W.B. Yeats – Noh Plays Vol 1 – At the Hawk’s Well,The Dreaming of the Bones

RG 469

Various Artists. Dir Barry Cassin and Noel MacMahon, music by Gerard Victory.

W.B. Yeats – Noh Plays Vol 2 -The Cat and the Moon, Resurrection

RG 470-
RG 472
Barbara Jefford, Alec McCowen, Max Adrian et al, dir. Shirley Butler G. B. Shaw – Saint Joan 1966
RG 474 Ewan MacColl, Charles Parker, Peggy Seeger et al The Ballad of John Axon (BBC Radio Ballad) 1965
RG 475
ZRG 5475
a) Barry Tuckwell (horn) Brenton Langbein (violin) Maureen Jones (piano) b) William Bennett (flute), Peter Graeme (oboe), Gervase de Peyer (clarinet) c) William Pleeth (cello) Gervase de Peyer d) Margaret Kitchin (piano) Barry Tuckwell (horn) Modern Instrumental Music – a) Banks b) Rodney Bennett c) Tate d) Hamilton 1966
ZRG 5479 Choir of King’s College Cambridge, dir. David Willcocks Tallis – Tudor Church Music Record II 1966
RG 484 Ashcroft, Holm, Johnson, Stride Elizabethan and Jacobean Lyrics 1966
RG 485 Holm, Johnson, Rylands, Stride The English Poets – a) Elizabethan Sonneteers b) Edmund Spenser 1966
RG 486

Ashcroft, Holm, Johnson, Orr, Stride

16th-17th Century Poets – Campion, Johnson and Herrick

RG 488

Church, Scales, Scott, Squire, Watson

Edmund Spenser – The Faerie Queen (excerpts)

RG 489
ZRG 5489
Alberni String Quartet – Dennis Simons, Howard Davis (violins), John White (viola), Gregory Baron (cello). In assoc with British Council. Rawsthorne – String Quartets 1966
RG 490
ZRG 5490
Elizabeth Vaughan (soprano), Alexander Young (tenor), Forbes Robinson (bass), Andrew Davis (harpsichord), John Langdon (organ continuo), King’s College Choir, Academy of St Matin-in-the-Fields cond. David Willcocks Handel – Chandos Anthems 1966
RG 491-492
ZRG 5491-
ZRG 5492
George Malcolm (harpsichord) Rameau – Harpsichord Works 1967
RG 493 Michael MacLiammoir I must be talking to my friends (Ireland’s Poets, Wits and Revolutionaries) 1966
RG 494
ZRG 5494
Choir of St John’s College, Jonathan Bielby (organ), Christopher Hogwood (harpsichord), strings from Academy of St Martin-in-the-Field, cond George Guest Monteverdi – Messa a 4 voci 1966
RG 495
ZRG 5495
Purcell Singers, English Chamber Orchestra, cond. Imogen Holst Holst – Six Choruses with Medieval Lyrics, Seven Part Songs 1966
RG 496
ZRG 5496
Elizabethan Singers, cond. Louis Halsey, Owen Brannigan (bass), Wilfred Parry (piano) English Folk Song Recital 1966
RG 497
ZRG 5497
Peter Pears (tenor), Norbert Brainin (violin), Richard Adeney (flute), Peter Graeme (oboe), Cecil Aronowitz (viola), Viola Tunnard (piano), Purcell Singers cond. Imogen Holst Holst – Vocal and Instrumental Works 1967
RG 498
ZRG 5498
Barry Tuckwell (horn), Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields cond. Neville Marriner Haydn – Horn Concertos 1966
RG 499
ZRG 5499
Elizabethan Singers – Louis Halsey, Simon Preston (organ) Contemporary Carols 1966

More print catalogues – 1969 and 1970

•October 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Thanks to Alistair Banfield for these, the covers of the label’s folk catalogues for 1969 and 1970. More promised…

Same cover for the two catalogues – even though a fair few new albums had been released. Posh!