Musaeus

Named after a minor deity in the religion of ancient Greece, Musaeus is a record label specialising in the unusual. Releases to date are three: ‘Sing a Song of Seasons’ - Song cycles by Ronald Stevenson (MZCD100), 'My Heart is like a Singing Bird' - Music by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (MZCD101) and ‘To All a Future World May Hold’ - Song cycles by Alan Bush (MZCD102).

Musaeus was set up by members of The Artsong Collective initially to issue their own first recording, but it is planned to expand the label to include recordings of others performers.

This web site was last updated on 11 March 2004. If you do not find the information you require regarding Musaeus or The Artsong Collective, contact:

asc@musaeus.co.uk

or write to us at PO Box 23850, London, SE15 5ZR, UK.

MZCD100 ‘Sing a Song of Seasons’

Song Cycles by Ronald Stevenson: A Child’s Garden of Verses (Robert Louis Stevenson); Nine Haiku (Keith Bosley, after the Japanese of Basho etc.); Border Boyhood (Hugh MacDiarmid). Performed by The Artsong Collective - Moira Harris (Soprano), Wills Morgan (Tenor), Richard Black (Piano)

Ronald Stevenson (b. 1928) is one of Scotland's leading composers. He is probably best known for his piano works, including the large-scale ‘Passacaglia on DSCH’, an 80-minute work based on Shostakovich’s musical initials, but he has also composed orchestral, choral and chamber works as well as over 200 songs. This disc, the first to be devoted to his songs, includes three important song cycles dating from the 1970s and 1980s. Beautifully lyrical in style, these songs are highly original and feature some exquisite word-painting.

Listen to some Stevenson! (First song, ‘Dedication’, from ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’: MP3, 920kB - about 2 minutes of music.)

Read a review of the CD

MZCD101 ‘My Heart is like a Singing Bird’

Works by Samuel Coleridge Taylor: Violin Sonata; 21 songs including ‘Five Southern Love Songs’. Performed by The Artsong Collective - Moira Harris (Soprano), Wills Morgan (Tenor), Richard Black (Piano) with Wilson Collins (Violin).

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875 - 1912) was phenomenally successful in his day as a composer of oratorios (including the famous ‘Hiawatha’, still in the repertory of many choral societies) and orchestral works. He also wrote over 100 songs which were popular with performers and audiences alike. He died young from overwork and heavy smoking, and his splendidly tuneful music largely went out of fashion in the more ascetic days of the post-First World War period. However various performers have recently begun to revive it, and concert performances by The Artsong Collective of his songs have invariably met with delight from the audience.

Listen to some Coleridge-Taylor! (title track from the CD: MP3, 1.6MB - a little over 2 minutes of music)

Or try this (part of the slow movement of the violin sonata from the CD: MP3, 450kB - about 1 minute of music)

In a hurry? (violin sonata, as above, low-fi MP3 streaming version)

Read a review of the CD

MZCD102 ‘To All a Future World May Hold’

Song cycles by Alan Bush: Woman’s Life (Nancy Bush); Four Seafarers’ Songs (trad.); Life’s Span (C. Day Lewis/Nancy Bush); Voices of the Prophets (Isaiah/Milton/Blake/Blackman). Performed by The Artsong Collective - Moira Harris (Soprano), Phillida Bannister (Contralto), Wills Morgan (Tenor), Paul Wilson (Baritone), Richard Black (Piano).

Alan Bush (1900 - 1995) was one of Britain’s most prolific and rounded composers, with a catalogue which over the period of some 70 years came to include four operas, four symphonies, chamber works for all kinds of combinations, solo songs, choral songs, and solo instrumental works. That his music was not better known in his lifetime (although most of it was performed by leading musicians, if not frequently) was largely down to his strong individuality. That in turn led him into two unfashionable avenues: writing music that was tuneful and contrapuntal when neither was considered at all in vogue, and an active espousal of left-wing politics which did not endear him to the ‘establishment’ in the West and also diverted his energies which might otherwise have been put into self-promotion (it could hardly be said, though, to have diverted his energies from composing: quite the opposite in fact). These songs are attractive, lyrical and above all powerfully human, and the perfect introduction to his music.

Listen to some Bush! (Third song, ‘The Long Noonday’, from ‘Life’s Span’: MP3, 3.5MB - about 6 minutes of music)

Read a review of the CD

To buy any of these recordings

contact us by any of the above methods. Price is £14.00 per disc including postage in the UK (overseas postage on application), and at the moment we only accept sterling cheques, payable to ‘Musaeus’.

WITHIN THE UK ONLY we are happy to supply CDs against an email order: we will enclose an invoice with the disc(s).

The Artsong Collective

The Artsong Collective was founded in 1994 by Moira Harris, Wills Morgan and Richard Black, with the intention of it being a flexible ensemble devoted principally to the twentieth-century repertoire of English-language song. Since then the group has given many recitals based around that repertoire and has be widely praised for its performances. Apart from the composers represented on the above recordings, others featured have included Denis ApIvor, Bernard van Dieren, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Ned Rorem, Laurence Armstrong Hughes and of course the better-known names such as Warlock and Delius.

The Artsong Collective is available for bookings for recitals, lecture recitals and informal song evenings. Contact asc@musaeus.co.uk

Technology

The Musaeus Technology Page - read about our approach to sound quality

The Alias-Intermodulation Distortion Page - a Musaeus discovery that advances the sound quality of CD

The Digital Audio Broadcast Page - another Musaeus suggestion, this time for improving the sound quality of the new DAB (or Digital Radio) system

Links