Poetry Serenade


Poetry Serenade brings together four top british singers to perform the newest masterpieces from Brian Knowles, based on the work of poets including William Wordsworth, Thomas Hood and Christina Georgina Rossetti. The eighteen songs on Poetry Serenade have been chosen to give the listener an eclectic array of the differing texts and contrasting styles of composition. A disc marvelled with talent, not only from the principle voices but also the RSVP Voices, the Brighton Festival Youth Choir and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

Elin Manahan Thomas Juliette Pochin
Jon Christos Nick Garrett
Brian Knowles is that rare thing – a composer of great originality who can also write good tunes! This CD is a terrific example of his work in setting some of the nation’s favourite poems to music. Having enjoyed Brian’s work myself for many years now, I’m happy to think that this CD will ensure it of a wider audience. His is a talent that deserves greater recognition and I congratulate him on a tremendous achievement.
Alan Titchmarsh MBE

What people are saying

“All those who admire the more traditional end of twentieth-century English song should find things to enjoy here.”



"This album really takes the listener on both a musical and poetic journey and has great appeal to a wide audience.”

Xantha – Classicalx.com

Elin Manahan Thomas
Juliette Pochin
Jon Christos
Nick Garrett

Release date:29th Sep 2008
Order code:SIGCD138
Barcode: 635212013823

***** 5 stars

When thinking of classical crossover, one tends to think of popular songs that have been given a classical twist or vice versa. In the case of Poetry Serenade however, the crossover is more than just the music. Composer Brian Knowles has taken some of the nation’s most well known and loved poems and set them to music that has both a traditional and popular style. He is joined in this venture by four of Britain’s top singers; Elin Manahan Thomas, Juliette Pochin, Jon Christos and Nick Garrett as well as supporting musicians from RSVP Voices , Brighton Festival Youth Choir and The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

The result is an album that is light and airy, rousing and patriotic and in some cases, quite magical. The variety in both the music and poetry make it an appealing album on many levels. ??Listening to the album, it is easy to see why the four soloists were chosen as they each bring a distinct and unique quality to the music and each voice is well suited to their individual poem’s subject matter. The musical arrangements also play an integral part in reflecting the poem’s tone and really help to bring the poem to life enabling the listener to create a mental picture in their minds. The poems will be familiar to many having been part of their upbringing but, hearing them set to music provides a completely new listening experience and challenges the ways you have come to think of them. That’s not to say that the music changes the tone or theme of the poem, but rather that it enhances it and gives you a deeper appreciation of the text. For example, in the poem Night Mail, the orchestral arrangements are done in such a way that you can hear the noise of the train and feel its rhythmic movement throughout the piece as the train journeys across the country. Other songs are given quite a Celtic feel to them with the use of drums and pipes and add quite a mystical, magical quality to the poem.

Nick Garrett sings in four of the tracks of the album, one of which is sung as a quartet with the other 3 soloists. Nick’s unmistakeable bass-baritone voice brings a great richness to the pieces he performs. There seems to be a prevalent theme in Nick’s poems too – that of going to meet your maker. In Lord of the Winds, by Mary Coleridge, the musical style is that of Lord of the Rings meets Riverdance and one is able to feel the force and energy of the winds and waters in the music with Nick’s powerful voice reflecting the fear and despair of the narrator. In The Solider by Rupert Brooke, the tone starts more gentle and sentimental gradually building with a rousing sense of patriotism which is echoed in the supporting choir before reverting to the gentle tones at the beginning. Nick’s voice adapts well to each of the themes in this song and in parts, totally blows you away with its strength and wonderfully rich tones. In Crossing the Bar by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the gentleness of the piece is totally reflected in his voice and its warm mellow tones. It has a very relaxing feel to it and ‘the crossing’ is made to feel quite dreamy and magical. The final track of the album Love Came down at Christmas by Christina Georgina Rossetti brings all four soloists together and has quite an angelic feel to it. The pure clear tones of Elin and Juliette combined with Jon’s strong tenor and Nick’s deep rich bass-baritone creates the truly magical feel that you associate with Christmas.

This album really takes the listener on both a musical and poetic journey and has great appeal to a wide audience.

  1. Written in March – –
  2. Lord Of The Winds – –
  3. He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven – –
  4. I Remember, I Remember – –
  5. The Daffodils – –
  6. The Soldier – –
  7. Night Mail – –
  8. Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep – –
  9. She Walks In Beauty – –
  10. In Memoriam – –
  11. I Sing Of A Maiden – –
  12. Weathers – –
  13. Come, Sweetheart, Come – –
  14. Crossing The Bar – –
  15. The Lake Isle Of Innisfree – –
  16. A Child?s Sleep – –
  17. Everyone Sang – –
  18. Bonus Track: Love Came Down At Christmas – –
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