20 March 2010

Road To Mandalay






I happened to be running around the net today researching various things and stumbled across a singer from early in the last century that I had never heard before. Since one of his recordings is one of my favorite Rudyard Kipling poems set to music, I decided to share a truly great baritone voice.

Peter Dawson From Wikipedia

Peter Dawson (31 January 1882 - 27 September 1961) was an Australian bass-baritone. He gained worldwide renown through his song recitals and the many best-selling recordings which he made of operatic arias, oratorio solos and rousing ballads during a career spanning almost 60 years.

Although Dawson's repertoire embraced a great deal of now dated popular songs and light music, he possessed a remarkably fluent and technically adroit vocal technique which enabled him to excel in highly demanding classical pieces. His voice combined an attractive dark timbre with an ideal balance of diction and vocal placement. He also possessed a smooth legato, a strong but integrated 'attack' that eschewed intrusive aspirates, and a near-perfect ability to manage running passages and difficult musical ornaments such as roulades.

These skills probably derived from his studies with Sir Charles Santley, a virtuoso English baritone of the Victorian era. If Dawson's interpretations were not profoundly penetrating, they were not shallow either; and in his chosen field of English concert pieces of the vigorous, manly, outdoors kind, he remains unequalled. The tremendously high technical finish of his Handelian singing sets an unmatched standard, too.

In 1984, Dawson was chosen by the Guinness Book of Recorded Sound as one of the top 10 singers on disc of all time, listed alongside such luminaries as Elvis Presley and the great operatic tenor Enrico Caruso.

MANDALAY

by Rudyard Kipling

By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' eastward to the sea,
There's a Burma girl a-settin', and I know she thinks o' me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
"Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!"
Come you back to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay:
Can't you 'ear their paddles chunkin' from Rangoon to Mandalay?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin'-fishes play,
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

'Er petticoat was yaller an' 'er little cap was green,
An' 'er name was Supi-yaw-lat -- jes' the same as Theebaw's Queen,
An' I seed her first a-smokin' of a whackin' white cheroot,
An' a-wastin' Christian kisses on an 'eathen idol's foot:
Bloomin' idol made o'mud --
Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd --
Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed 'er where she stud!
On the road to Mandalay . . .

When the mist was on the rice-fields an' the sun was droppin' slow,
She'd git 'er little banjo an' she'd sing "~Kulla-lo-lo!~"
With 'er arm upon my shoulder an' 'er cheek agin' my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an' the ~hathis~ pilin' teak.
Elephints a-pilin' teak
In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
Where the silence 'ung that 'eavy you was 'arf afraid to speak!
On the road to Mandalay . . .

But that's all shove be'ind me -- long ago an' fur away,
An' there ain't no 'busses runnin' from the Bank to Mandalay;
An' I'm learnin' 'ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
"If you've 'eard the East a-callin', you won't never 'eed naught else."
No! you won't 'eed nothin' else
But them spicy garlic smells,
An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells;
On the road to Mandalay . . .

I am sick o' wastin' leather on these gritty pavin'-stones,
An' the blasted Henglish drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho' I walks with fifty 'ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
An' they talks a lot o' lovin', but wot do they understand?
Beefy face an' grubby 'and --
Law! wot do they understand?
I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
On the road to Mandalay . . .

Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there aren't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin', an' it's there that I would be --
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay,
With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin'-fishes play,
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

2 comments:

Linda said...

Ah well if he's from Australia then there's no doubt that you would love him if he hadn't put your favorite Rudyard Kipling poem to music!

I must say, though, that a beautiful baritone is certainly music to my ears.

Travis said...

Regrettably, I didn't understand the technical terminology used in the passage from Wiki. But I did listen to the singing on the video, and I can say that my untrained ear enjoyed the vocal. I'm not generally a fan of a baritone voice, but this gentleman was very easy to listen to.