ALBUM: FRONTIERS / RITES OF PASSAGE: The Choral Music of David F Golightly
ARTIST: The Soglasie Male Voice Choir of St Petersburg

Review by Rob Barnett published in The British Music Society News 110 June 2006

David GOLIGHTLY (b. 1948) Choral Music for male voice choir. Soglasie Male Voice Choir of St Petersburg/Alexander Govorov; Demitri Tepliakov (piano) MODRANA MCD002 {65:26}

The English composer David Golightly studied music in Huddersfield with Richard Steinitz. He was born and lives in County Durham. His music is well worth watching out for as was well and truly announced some five years ago with the issue of his First Symphony a recording of the second is soon to follow. This is the second all-Golightly disc. It concentrates on his music for male voice chorus topped up with other peoples arrangements of fourteen Russian folksongs.

Golightly’s two groups of songs explore the poignant melancholy of Alexander Pushkin in Rites of Passage. He is here in the same territory as two twentieth century Russian masters who have set Pushkin for chorus: Georgy Sviridov and Boris Tchaikovsky. As for Golightly’s other work featured here not all that long ago it would have been unthinkable for a Russian choir to have recorded or even sung a sequence of American folksongs (mostly of cowboy’ origin). Frontiers includes such Western favourites as The Chishoim Trail, Shenandoah and The Streets of Laredo.

In the two Golightly sequences the stride and shaping of each song apat from Shenandoah is aided and enriched by the assertively recorded piano of Dmitri Tepliakov. Golightlv’s style is exuberant and forward, emotional and exciting. He knows the human voice well and I suspect was delighted to be able to write for a fully professional choir, as here. In fact some of this reminded me of another British composer, Geoffrey Bush.

The Pushkin songs, setting translations into English by Henry Jones, are sung and recorded with a warmth the emotional and calorific value of which will thaw the coldest heart and hands. The choir must have been very close up to the microphones which caused some stress in several fortissimo passages. There is a striking gauntness and iron-bell stoniness about the final song Elegy. The accent of the soloist is quite thick in The Singer so the words cannot always be picked out. You hear the same thing in the Five American folk songs of Frontiers. Still it compares nicely with the sometimes cheesy collegiate brilliance of Stokowski’s recording of the Roy Harris Folksong symphony. These are settings with blood coursing through the veins. The choir make a specially telling effect in Shenandoah and they do so without succumbing to the many invitations to sentimentality. Superb stuff ... and my do you hear the Russian bass resonance! The pace of The Streets of Laredo is surprisingly leisurely - elegiac but with a slight skip in the step. The setting of John Hardy is vehemently and grippingly lively.

We leave Golightly for some arrangements of Russian folksongs. These are vibrant, boozy, flightily lighthearted and melancholic.

This page was last updated on 9 October, 2006