£12.00 inc P&P
Songs of the People

Folk Songs arranged by Haydn, Hughes, Tate, Wilson-Dickson, ap Sion, MacMillan and Dove.

"I have always loved singing folk songs, as they are storytelling in the most beautiful and yet simple form. In this collection I have chosen my favourite arrangements from around the British Isles, and as an encore an American spiritual arranged by Jonathan Dove".

The five Welsh airs by Haydn were commissioned (among 60 in total) by George Thomson in 1803/4 with English poems specially written to accompany them. I believe this recording to be the first to include Welsh words to the accompaniment of period instruments.

Two of Pwyll ap Sion's arrangements were commissioned for the Gower Festival - I wanted to choose three songs that would create a short cycle of life - so I chose three songs that involved a mother and child. Birth, Childhood and Death.

Jonathan Dove kindly arranged Stan Still Jordan for me 15 years ago.

Phyllis Tate's arrangement seems not to have ever been published let alone recorded. The song was given to me by Noelle Barker as I was studying with her at the time (1984). Phyllis Tate lived just up the road from Noelle and would pop in with a new work for Noelle to try out.

Andrew Wilson-Dickson initially arranged Sliabh na mBan for myself and siblings to sing at a Wales/Ireland Match in Cardiff, and then adjusted it from a full wind orchestra to piano.

Cymru Wales
Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)
Hob y Deri Dando
Dafydd y Garreg Wen
Codiad yr Ehedydd
Ar Hyd y Nos
Gorhoffedd Gwyr Harlech

Pwyll ap Sion (1968)
*Y Fam a'i Baban
C'weiriwch fy Nghwely

Andrew Wilson-Dickson (1946)
*Mam yng Nghyfraith t'wnt i'r Afon

Lloegr England
The Bonny Fisher Lad

Iwerddon Ireland
*Sliabh na mBan

Herbert Hughes (1882 - 1937)
I Know Where I'm Goin

Phyllis Tate (1911 - 87)
The Lake of Coolfin

Yr Alban Scotland
James Macmillan (1959)

Yr Amerig America
Jonathan Dove (1959)
*Stan' Still Jordan

*Caneuon wedi eu trefnu yn arbennig i Buddug
*Songs arranged specially for Buddug
Llais Voice Buddug Verona James
Piano, Forte piano Andrew Wilson-Dickson
Ffidil Violin Simon Jones
Soddgrwth Cello Kate Ayres

Songs of the People Reviews:
"Musical variety and genuine passion" Andrew Stewart (Classic FM Magazine)
"I love this CD" Matthew Parris
"A rich and very melodious voice" Alwyn Humphries (Reviewed for BBC Wales)

Buddug James is a fine, versatile mezzo. So versatile, indeed, that the entry page of her website (http://www.buddug.co.uk/) describes her as an "Opera Singer, Actress and Butcher". The latter epithet refers to the time she spent working in the family butchery business before study in Rome and at the Guildhall, prior to making her way as a singer. She has extensive operatic experience, and has had considerable success with her one-woman shows such as A Knife at the Opera and, especially, Castradiva – of which she recently gave a performance at Handel House Museum in London, in connection with the fascinating exhibition Handel and the Castrati. With her brother and two sisters she also appears as part of ‘The James Family’, having recorded an album of gospels and performed ahead of a Wales-Ireland rugby international at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

In the summer of 2005 I wrote a short review (for the local paper) of a recital Buddug James and Andrew Wilson-Dickson gave as part of the Gower Festival, a recital which shared quite a lot of material with this new CD. I enjoyed the recital and I have also enjoyed the CD – though it has to be said that the playing time is decidedly short.

The programme begins with five of the folk-song settings which Haydn wrote to a commission from the Edinburgh publisher George Thomson in 1803/4. At the time, new English words were used. This recording returns to the original Welsh texts of the songs - English translation or summaries of these Welsh songs are provided in the CD booklet. That booklet, incidentally, is something of a nightmare in terms of design – red ink on darkly reproduced photographs does not make for easy reading. Nor are the notes as extensive as they might have been. With Andrew Graham-Dickson leading the accompanying trio at the forte piano, the Haydn songs are a delight – the instrumental introductions and other contributions every bit as rewarding as James’ own singing. Dafydd y Garreg Wen (‘David at the White Rock) is a fine piece of pre-romantic dramatic monologue and Codiad yr Ehedydd (‘The Rising of the Lark’) a charming celebration of natural energies. Ar Hyd y Nos is perhaps more familiar. Living as I do in Wales, I am often subjected to less than ideal performances of what most will know as ‘All Through the Night’; how nice to hear this setting by Haydn so sympathetically - and movingly - sung and performed. Gorhoffedd Gwyr Harlech (‘The March of the Men of Harlech’) comes up with a new freshness too, like a painting newly restored.

There are more Welsh folk-songs in arrangements by Pwyll ap Siôn, beginning with a tender version of Y Fam a’i Baban (‘A Mother and her Baby’), with the lower register of James’ voice heard to particularly good effect; a rumbustious account of a naughty childhood (Llanast, ‘Chaos’) is succeeded by a somewhat melodramatic version of C’weiriwch fy Nghwely (‘Tidy my Bed’). Andrew Wilson-Dickson – as well as being an excellent accompanist throughout – contributes two arrangements to the programme. The first is of the Welsh song Mam yng nghyfraith t’wnt i’r Afon (Mother-in-law beyond the River’), which has a particularly complex piano accompaniment; the second is a version of an Irish song, Sliabh na mBan (‘Mountain of the Women’) sung with elegiac tenderness by James.

The Irish composer Herbert Hughes – an avid collector of folk songs - is well represented by ‘I Know Where I’m Goin’’, an enjoyable but perhaps rather too decorous arrangement. Altogether more powerful is Phyllis Tate’s harrowing setting of ‘The Lake of Coolfin’, given a very fine performance here; so too is the very different ‘O the Bonny Fisher Lad’. It’s a shame that we seem to hear so little of Phyllis Tate’s music these days.

The programme ends with two more settings by contemporaries. James Macmillan’s ‘Ballad’ adds modern piano figurations to an authentic-sounding vocal line and gets a compelling performance from James. Jonathan Dove’s arrangement of the familiar spiritual Stan’ still Jordan was made with James in mind, and she sings it with dignity and conviction.

This recital offers vivacious singing with adroit and intelligent accompaniment, in an interesting programme of mostly unfamiliar songs. James characterises her material in a forceful, but unexaggerated manner and sings, throughout, with great, thoroughly musical, expressiveness.

A thoroughly agreeable programme, impressively interpreted by an accomplished singer. And how many other mezzos are there who have won an award for meat management skills, at the Royal Welsh Show (1978)?

Glyn Pursglove (www.musicweb-international)


Buddug Verona James is primarily an opera singer, but has grown up with the folk singing tradition in her blood. This disc of British folk-songs arranged by composers from Joseph Haydn to James MacMillan suits her perfectly, with the paritcular timbre and dark quality of James' mezzo voice giving something special to the melodies.

When Haydn was in London he was commissioned to arrange a collection of folksongs and clearly rather enjoyed doing so, for there are some 60 all told, the five chosen in this CD being performed in their delightful original arrangements, Andrew Wilson-Dickson plays the fortepiano, with violinist Simon Jones and cellist Kate Ayres also featuring.

One of the most beautiful of the Welsh airs, Dafydd y Garreg Wen, stands out here, Haydn, relishing the minor mode, adds to the song's poignancy by adding anguished appogiaturas and he interpolates a rather dramatic section between verses.

Pwyll ap Sion's three contemporary arrangements of songs, focusing on the relationship of mother and child and forming a short but potent little cycle celebrating birth, childhood and death, emerge strongly. Wilson-Dickson is a sensitive accompanist and his own arrangement of Mam yng nghyfraith t'wnt i'r Afon is effective too.

Phyllis Tate's wonderful version of the Irish folk-song The Lake of Coolfin is a highlight, while what James calls her American encore, Stan' Still Jordan, specially arranged for her by Jonathan Dove, also works beautifully................

 This is a really delicious CD - Rian Evans (Musical Opinion)


Buddug Verona James This CD is Fflach's first venture into the world of baroque music and features castrati arias by Handel and Gluck from Buddug Verona James' one-woman show 'Castradiva', which has played to sell out audiences. Buddug's distinctive voice and enigmatic personality enthrall the listener and this CD is sure to make an impression in the classical world. 'She is a real showstopper', Andrew Clements, The Guardian. (CD237L) CD- £8.99

£11.00 inc P&P

Copyright © 2006 BuddugDeveloped by Globe Orange