Children's songs, Classical, New Music
ABC Classics 481 2235
Reviewed by Elizabeth Silsbury, February 1st, 2016
Everyone knows that ‘most men’ spend ‘most of their time singing’ as Andrew Ford did when Elsie, now five, was born.
What could be more natural than for a new father to sing to his baby the songs that his parents sang to him? Just about anything, actually.
No matter. Ford treats the 29 chosen songs with his secure touch for matching notes to words, varying the style and complexity according to his compositional whimsies. Further, study of his choice and use of instruments should be made mandatory for all music students. He has a magical touch.
29 songs in all, many traditional, some fresh off Ford’s prolific pen accompanied by a long list of intune strings, winds and percussion.
Some are irresistibly sing-along, wooed by the honeyed voices of Teddy Tahu Rhodes – crystal clarity – and Jane Sheldon; no vibrato, though we know she has plenty on tap.
Muffin Man (wacky windy backing), Cock-a doodle-do, Miss Polly.
A rousing march with Aiken Drum, little arms in all directions and legs responding instinctively to the snappy rhythms of Dance to Your Daddy.
Story time. Ford’s settings of Edward Lear classics The Owl and the Pussy-cat, The Quangle Wangle’s Hat, The Jumblies.
Ford shares a tip. Elsie was a ‘wriggly baby’ on the change table and he found she would keep still when he recited Lear’s inspired nonsense to her.
Must have Twinkle Twinkle of course. Double dose here. First Ford’s setting of a five verse poem by Jane Taylor, then instruments only of what every child seems born knowing, followed by its close relative Baa Baa Black Sheep.
A batch that will go well as lullabies – Lavender’s Blue Dilly Dilly, See-Saw, Golden Slumbers – is the bub asleep? No she’s wide awake, waiting to hear what comes next. Here’s a gentle Rock-a-Bye Baby that doesn’t want to end. There…
Elsie might ask her father to extend some of the songs so she can go on dancing.
Even so, the disc belongs in every family, every nursery school. A perfect gift for the new-born who has everything.