The Romantic Englishman
Novello's part-songs at threepence a copy (perhaps not that), the male-voice quartet (alto on top, no nonsense about countertenors in those days), evenings at each other's houses, wives bringing in the coffee and biscuits with smiles and a few pleasantries before returning to the knitting and the wireless: it's all part of another world. This record revives the memory agreeably enough, though the male-voice quartets of my youth sang less daintily and demurely, and in solo and duet were a good deal more resonant and robust. Here the quality of the singing is nevertheless frequently better than that of the music and words. Variously hearty (
Lines such as ''We're out of your shot, you stupid old sot'' are not entirely representative, but on the whole the words are better half-heard and not seen. Sometimes, as in the Schubertian grace of Hatton's
An additional pleasure is the clear and colourful reproduction of James Tissot's painting called The Holiday in which the romantic Englishman is seen lying like the Sheikh of Araby by the Round Pond in Kensington Gardens and completely ignoring the womenfolk except to hold out his teacup for a refill.'