Music of Charles Dickens and His Time
Chris Watson, Ian Giles, Margaret Knight, The Seven Dials Band & The St Clements Chorus
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This collection of vocal and instrumental music is made up of pieces associated in one way or another with Charles Dickens' life and work. The majority of them are popular tunes he refers to in his novels, including the familiar College Hornpipe, the country dance Sir Roger de Coverly, and songs like Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms, and Home, Sweet Home. Another category included is songs from operettas for which Dickens wrote the texts, mostly in his youth. There are also several instrumental pieces by his contemporaries written in homage to the novels, including the Christmas Carol Quadrilles and polkas named for characters from David Copperfield. Much of the music reflects the sweetness and gentility of Victorian sensibilities, but there are also examples of rowdy, comic, or gruesome ballads that would have been popular with the working classes. The Seven Dials Band, an ensemble of singers and instrumentalists, many of whom both sing and play, delivers delightful performances. The singing is clean, expressive, and pleasantly unmannered. The ensemble, which includes oboe, clarinet, serpent, trombone, tuba, fiddle, cello, harp, concertina, piano, and percussion, plays with grace and spirit, without overdoing the kitsch of some of the material. The album is loads of fun; the performers draw just the appropriate sentiment from the music, whether it's earnestly sincere, boisterous, or just plain silly. The sound of the CD, recorded in 1996, is clear and natural.
Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s