Jonathan Vernon, Western Front Association, October 2016
Blessed with the voice of Ute Lemper and the looks of Cate Blanchett, Patricia has become a regular performer at First World War Centenial Events in Europe and America.
In her new CD, ‘Songs of the Great War’, Patricia demonstrates her versatility with the variety of songs she performs, in French and German, as well as English, from the more classical to the informal ‘song of the inn’. The instruments played, often vintage, are those that any centennial time traveller would hear: from accordion to mandolin, flute to harp, piano and guitar. You get that extraordinary sense that ‘you are there’.
Listening to the CD, although it is a studio performance, the choice of songs, the arrangements, instrumentation and performance, is done with such craft that it evokes the era of the First World War: you think you can hear the audience in a Musical Hall – you can sense them; it isn’t hard to imagine hundreds of soldiers packed up and ready to move listening to an impromptu ballad, lighting cigarettes, tapping their feet and calling out in delight. You can then imagine these songs being picked up by the men and sang as they marched, or relaxed in their billets, or hummed in the trenches or picked out on a mouthorgan. Just as much, you can imagine loved ones at home remembering the tunes, or playing them from sheet music at their piano.
There are a number of linking pieces, instrumental interludes, that creates a sense of narrative. There are instrumental pieces too. All created with great skill and each a gem that takes you to a different part of the war, and a different army, as there are French and German songs too.
Donald R. Vroon (editor) American Record Guide May/June 2016
My grandfather, whom I grew up with, was in the British army in World War I (as a translator of German) and used to tell me stories of it and sing me songs. When Pearl issued a CD called The Great War it reduced me to tears (9355, Sept/Oct 1989, p 136). Those recordings are the original ones from the period. Some were by John McCormack, who was hard to beat; there was even one by Caruso. Both that record and this one have the biggest hit of the period, `It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’; that was sung by soldiers on the front right from the beginning in 1914.
Another remarkable recording was recently issued by the British Military Music Archive (1501). All the pieces were recorded between 1931 and 1940 by the Band of the Welsh Guards; and it, too, is very moving, though not all the pieces are from the Great War.
Patricia Hammond gives us something quite different. All these songs are from the period, and many of them are on the Pearl disc in their original garb. What we get here are new recordings and arrangements by Matt Redman, who also plays a host of instruments from piano to banjo to slide guitar, joined by a number of other musicians. The sound is a lot better, of course, than the old recordings. And Patricia Hammond has a truly beautiful voice and a sweet and charming way with the music.
I had forgotten that `I’m Always Chasing Rainbows’ is a Great War song (using Chopin’s music). There are two German songs here, too, that I never knew existed, and one French one. These are very good songs–popular in their day, before popular taste became as depraved as it is now. If we are used to hearing an Irish tenor sing `Roses of Picardy’, it may take a minute to get used to a Canadian mezzo-soprano; but I think you’ll like her singing. The last three songs are `Pack Up Your Troubles’–very familiar to anyone who grew up with WOR in New York, since it was sung at 8AM every day by John B Gambling–`Till We Meet Again’, which we sang at campfires when I was a child; and `Long, Long Trail’–very familiar, but I never knew it was written in 1913 at Yale.
Nothing will replace that Pearl disc, but this is very good. The arrangements are often ingenious, and the singer is wonderful; but it’s the songs that matter, and they will last forever.
Jack Rummel, Ragtime Music Reviews, January 2016
Hammond has done her research well and has assembled a very wide variety of tunes, from anguished laments to peppy marching songs and beyond. She has even tapped the overlooked genre of German war songs (Gegen England and Bald, Allzubalde) and included a French drinking song (Quand Madelon). Even though her crystal-clear mezzo-soprano voice was probably trained for salon pieces or light opera, her inherent love for these long-forgotten moments in our musical history brings them alive again, whether she is enthusiastically urging us to march forward or mourning a resultant tragedy.
Special note should be made of her musical accompaniment, with period-influenced arrangements by Matt Redman that capture the mood of each song perfectly. The lyrics, which are easily heard, even remind the listener how the English lexicon has changed in the last 100 years.
The sound quality is extremely good and the liner notes are extensive and enlightening.
This recording by Patricia Hammond is a first-class effort. Period songs are always part of ragtime festivals because our audiences appreciate and welcome them. Chronologically, World War I cannot be separated from the Ragtime Era and Hammond has done a great service by re-kindling our awareness of this.
10th November 2014
Centenary News: Patricia Hammond is a Canadian-born but London-based mezzo-soprano singer. She has spent 10 years studying the background and styles of musicians and singers who performed Edwardian and WW1 popular songs – and is now on a UK tour singing songs from the war period. READ HERE
Peter Bevan, June 2013
Jean Kelly & Patricia Hammond, St. Mary’s Church, Arkengarthdale.
Both harpist Jean Kelly and mezzo-soprano Patricia Hammond have become festival favourites so it was a particular pleasure to hear them together.
As we’ve seen before, Patricia Hammond makes an audience feel at ease, introducing each song and chatting naturally with a little help from Jean Kelly, too.
More importantly perhaps, the singer showed once again a lovely technique, her voice even throughout its range and expressive whatever the material.
They began with folk songs including Drink To Me Only, performed with just the right touch, an almost Schubertian All Things Love Thee, and Blow the Wind Southerly which for once lost nothing in comparison with Kathleen Ferrier’s famous recording.
As well as providing beautifully judged accompaniment Miss Kelly also played two contrasting harp solos: a gloriously swinging – dare I say jazzy? – Harpicide at Midnight and later on, a lighter and more delicate Kerry Dance.
We also heard a truly touching Les Berceaux by Faure and Hahn’s L’heure exquise contained some beautifully written harp accompaniment.
The opera arias were especially effective, with a sad and moving Lascia ch’io Pianga from Handel’s Rinaldo and an outstanding performance of Mozart’s Voi che Sapete. The performance ended with Balfe’s I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls sung sympathetically with a lovely even tone but with an exquisite lilt.
Culture section, The Sunday Times, 5th February, 2012
‘…Patricia Hammond divides her engagements between retirement homes, where she sings for people who remember the songs from their childhood, and fashionable clubs, where a generation young enough to be their great-grandchildren increasingly enjoys travelling back in time for an evening. Now the mezzo-soprano has released Our Lovely Day, an album of songs from the Edwardian era to the 1930s, including We’ll Gather Lilacs and the surprisingly saucy Button Up Your Overcoat, rearranged for a new audience.’
‘One appeal of the vintage scene, she says, is that “it is not as sexualised as dance clubs. The 1920s and 1930s were a safer time of good manners, dressing up smartly and behaving according to certain rules of society. And, in that environment, it’s more exciting to see a little flash of calf, or perhaps an elbow as someone removes a glove”’.
Macleans Magazine, July 2012
Patricia Hammond’s Sentimental Journey – Mike Doherty
Anthony Page, 50Connect, December 2011
It’s all getting rather nostalgic, as this mezzo soprano’s blast-from-the-past new album takes us back to the hits of yesteryear.
We had two friends over for dinner this weekend. As they came up the stairs we were playing a new CD I had been given for review.
By the time they had taken off their coats both of them were smiling and swaying with the music. Nostalgia had struck and they were back with the gramophone – it was 1939 all over again. Who needs Dr Who’s Tardis? Patricia Hammond will take you back there in an instant!
The Vintage Guide to London, Sept. 14th, 2011
My Vintage London: Patricia Hammond, singer
This week Canadian singer Patricia Hammond shares her top tips on vintage shopping and events in the capital and explains why it’s worth wandering amongst remnants from past world-fairs.
Noir Girl: The Adventures of a 40s Girl in a Modern World, July 22nd, 2011
Music for the Vintage Lover
For some time, I’ve been aware of a void in my wide circle of vintage involvement. Yes, I have the clothes, the hairstyles, the slang words, the movies, the dancing, and the music from days gone by. But, while all the other areas are experiencing revivals with modern twists at the moment, I couldn’t find a place where vintage music was flourishing in the capable hands of modern artists… Until now, that is.
Let me introduce you to a very lovely lady: Patricia Hammond. Patricia is a mezzo-soprano singer with an undying appreciation for what she likes to call “old songs” – classic vintage tunes from the 1900s through the 40s. She’s a performer in the style of Deanna Durbin, Alice Faye and Jane Powell and the range of her repertoire impresses even the most diehard vintage lovers.
Peter Bevan, June 2011
Songs of the Landscape, St. Mary’s Church, Arkengarthdale.
This delightfully mixed programme was performed by the British-Canadian mezzo soprano Patricia Hammond, accompanied by Michael Brough on the piano.
It was one of those occasions when everything came together perfectly – two artists in peak form and in complete accord with each other, a very well chosen programme and a beautiful setting.
From the opening Ombra Mai Fu by Handel, not an easy start for a singer I would think, it was clear that Hammond has a beautiful, well-trained voice, but with an unforced technique, very well complemented by Brough’s piano playing, particularly on the rather fine grand piano specially loaned to the festival by Yamaha.
A striking Where Corals Lie, by Elgar, led to the first of three Vaughan Williams songs, Linden Lea, before a seasonal quartet of songs by Faure, Sigurd Lie, Ivor Gurney and Chaminade, all charmingly and eloquently introduced by the singer, with occasional interpolations by the pianist.
The centrepiece though was the first performance of Michael Brough’s A Swaledale Sequence for low voice, clarinet and piano, specially commissioned by the festival.
These were settings of three poems by Dales residents: Beauty Lives Just Down the Dale by Pete Roe, Life by Ann Pilling and Flood by Felicity Manning. All three poets were there to hear their works in this new guise for the first time.
With some hauntingly beautiful playing from Lucy Downer’s clarinet, much of it in the lower register, Hammond, singing throughout from memory, evoked some vivid and moving images of Dales life. Writing and performance, words and music, gelled together perfectly in a most accessible work which I hope might be performed again in Swaledale.
Midweek with Libby Purves, April 14th, 2010
Awakenings: the beauty and sadness of performing in care homes for the elderly. Telegraph magazine, March 20th, 2010
Care homes for the elderly are a notoriously tough gig, and entertainers who do the circuit can be met with anything from heartbreaking, helpless passivity to heckling and walk-outs. But every so often, the singer Patricia Hammond reveals, a miracle makes it all worthwhile. See full article
Donald R. Vroon (editor) American Record Guide Sept/Oct 2008
The singer sent me this in 2006, and I owe her an apology for such a late review. (She actually made the recording in 2003.) I misplaced it; then I found it but lost the US address. Then I couldn’t decide what to say. That problem was quite simple: I thought she sang these songs better than anyone I had heard, but I don’t have the technical training in voice to explain what that means. That is, I thought reviewing it myself would tell the knowledgeable reader less than if I sent it out.
But I didn’t want to send it out, because I had grown attached to it.
All the important French composers of songs seem represented here except Debussy and Ravel, who are best known for other things. Let me list the composers to show you what variety we have here: Hahn, Fauré, Rhene-Baton, Offenbach, Bemberg, Szulc, Nachez, Koechlin, Weckerline, Kosma (‘Autumn Leaves’, beautifully sung), Chausson, Godard (the famous Berceuse), Bizet, Poulenc (including ‘Les Chemins de l’Amour’––one of his best),Chaminade, Duparc, Lalo, and Martini (Plaisir
d’Amour’, at the end).
It’s a beautiful and balanced program, and the singing is perfect. The voice is silvery but substantial. It’s smooth and sweet and rich but not thick or heavy. She is English but sings French like a native, with native wit and feeling.
I guess one advantage to waiting so long is that I can testify how well this wears: I still love it and return to it. Of course, you have to love the language and the French style of expression and music. It’s not lieder; I like it better than most lieder. It’s lighter and more charming, and this singer gives the charm full value.
Chi-chi Nwanoku, BBC Radio 3, March 2nd, 2008
Patricia Hammond, your ears should be burning. Your voice has captivated so many of our listeners that they’re queueing up, writing in and tripping over themselves, desperate to hear you again. Charles Giles wrote “I heard her singing Autumn Leaves in your programme last year, and thought it was stunning.” Likewise, Sylvie Hardy says that she’s a changed woman since hearing Patricia Hammond, and that her disc is a revelation. “Please play any track from it.” Well, Ava Scott has made the
choice of track very easy for me. She writes “When I was a little girl in the 1930s, my mother used to play me an old, old record before I went to bed. It was the Berceuse from Jocelyn by Godard. I’d forgotten what it was called, and I’d forgotten the singer on the record for years and years. But then I was at a concert in Bushey, Hertfordshire, and a charming mezzo-soprano sang it, and the memories came flooding back. I’ve discovered recently that she’d recorded it, and I must say that her
version is absolutely lovely. The mezzo-soprano’s name is Patricia Hammond. The CD is entitled Le Charme and I do hope you can somehow find it, and play the Berceuse for me.”
Diana Tyson, Lutherans in London, March, 2008
An appreciative audience attended the concert [of J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio] and the extremely demanding and difficult score was rendered with lucidity by the Sweelinck Ensemble, which produces a full sound despite its moderate numbers (9 singers and 20 instrumentalists). It was a performance manifestly in the service of the music and the occasion. Especially notable was the singing by the alto Patricia Hammond.
Jan DeGrass, Coast Reporter, March 2006
DIVA DELIGHTS: Mezzo-soprano Patricia Hammond performed before a full crowd at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre last Friday. The singer, who was raised on the Coast and now lives in London, delighted the audience with her ability and effervescent manner. She sang compositions in Italian, French and German – many of which had been set to music by accompanying pianist Michael Brough, also of London. Highlights included an operatic segement, a French version of Autumn Leaves, a Brough
arrangement of the Irish folk tune Danny Boy and an undeservedly forgotten Irving Berlin number, You’d Be Surprised. Hammond closed with a nostalgic song from Don Messer’s Jubilee, ‘Till We Meet Again, followed by an encore duet with her mother Jo Hammond.
Brian Newson, France Lynch Herald, November, 2004
After hearing Patricia Hammond singing in the first concert in a series at St. John the Baptist’s Church recently, I think I would agree with Tom Conti that she does have one of the most beautiful voices I have heard.
Patricia Hammond and Michael Brough, the two musicians, gave very assured performances while their pleasant, friendly presentation soon achieved a good rapport with the audience. The programme, which had an autumn flavour, held something for everyone, ranging from The Honeysuckle and the Bee to César Franck’s Panis Angelicus. Patricia was equally happy singing both sorts of music with a beautiful range of expression and very considerable vocal dexterity. But I was
particularly interested in a group of French songs and admired the way she carried off Jean-Baptiste Weckerlin’s Tambourin. She also included three short interesting Lieder written for her by Michael Brough whcih gave a very pleasant change of direction to the programme. Both performers have obviously spent much time working together as Michael’s supporting role of accompanist gave accomplished backing to Patricia’s singing.
Andrew Stewart, Music Week, February 28th, 2004
“[Terra Firma] has also established its own label, Belleville, issuing an album of rarely heard French art songs last October…Le Charme presents a platform for young Canadian mezzo-soprano Patricia Hammond, whose very distinctive tone recalls a lost world of French chanson and art song. The disc includes one premiere recording and rarities that last entered the catalogue in the days of 78s.”
Jan DeGrass, Arts and Entertainment Writer, Coast Reporter (Canada) November 2003
Mezzo soprano Patricia Hammond, 28, a graduate of Elphinstone, delighted more than 135 people at Canada House in London, England, Oct. 21 when she launched her first commercially produced CD Le Charme.
The showcase of Canadian talent at which Hammond sang and introduced her songs has inspired several cultural attachés and officers of the Canadian High Commission in London to define the night as “the best showcase we’ve ever had.”
The songs on Le Charme are sung in French. Hammond has a variety of lieder and art songs in various languages in her repertoire, including German lieder by Brahms and Schumann, English art songs by Edward Elgar and her favoured French songs by Claude Debussy and Cecile Chaminade, among others. Her recent string of musical credits includes soloist for the Manchester Bach Choir, and most recently, singing with the chorus of the Berlin Philharmonic in Germany and Switzerland.
In past years, she has performed on the Coast several times to critical acclaim, and she often sings at private recitals such as a recent one at the home of actor Tom Conti who once trained to be a classical pianist. A reviewer for Culture-Kiosque called her performance “a moving and fascinating demonstration of what can be achieved in French art song.”
Extracts from the notice by John Sidgwick, published in Culture-Kiosque, on Patricia Hammond’s recital given at the house of Mr. Tom Conti on 12 September 2002.
“…the English mezzo-soprano Patricia Hammond gave a moving and fascinating demonstration of what can be achieved in French art song and she was admirably partnered by an exceptionally gifted pianist, Zoë Mather. At the age of twenty-eight, Miss Hammond is in full possession of her vocal powers and she exploits these in the interests of both poet and composer. Moreover, she does not rest on the laurels of possessing a hauntingly-beautiful voice as some singers might be tempted to
do; on the contrary, without ever departing from the purest vocal sound, she constantly varies its colour and intensity according to the mood and the meaning of the words.
…It is Miss Hammond’s contention that Joseph Kosma’s setting of Jacques Prévert’s “Feuilles Mortes” (Autumn Leaves), far from being a mere cabaret song, is a true representative of the art song – and that is precisely what it became in her treatment of it. Avoiding all excess, she sang in sheer simplicity and in so doing, lent the song quite unsuspected depth, well beyond the mere nostalgia to which we have been accustomed.
…In all, a truly priviliged moment of music”
Patric Standford, Yorkshire Post, Monday March 4th 2002
“(Rebecca Caine’s) partner in the duet ‘I waited for the Lord’ was Patricia Hammond, whose calm clarity sadly made only one appearance.”
Véronique Jacot, reviewing in the Journal du Pays-d’Enhaut, le 3 Janvier 2002
“A côté de ses dialogues brillants avec la trompette, (mezzo-soprano Patricia Hammond) offrit encore deux pièces en solo accompagnées à l’orgue, l’air sautillant “Gott hat alles wohl gemacht”, BWV 35, interprété avec précision, brio et délicatesse tout à la fois, ainsi que le poignant “Hymne du soir” de Purcell; Mlle. Hammond, qui semble être née pour chanter ce compositeur, prêtà cette pièce une profondeur
recueillie émouvante jusqu’aux larmes.”
Kerry Regier reviewing a performance of the Dvorak Stabat Mater on “West Coast Classics,” CFRO-FM, Vancouver, July 2000:
“A singer in another class altogether”
Patricia Hammond’s mezzo solo stood out particularly. In a fine quartet of soloists, she excelled; and although she’s clearly a singer in another class altogether, she never upstaged the other soloists, another remarkable achievement beyond her splendid musicality. Hammond sang with intense commitment and musical intelligence, and had the remarkable ability to vary her timbre to suit the expression of the text, something I’ve heard only rarely, even among famous soloists. This nearly-lost
capacity for variety was common among singers of the early twentieth century. Hammond’s long and assiduous study of the history of singing has rewarded her, but she never sounded old-fashioned in the Dvorak. I’m looking forward eagerly to more from this young singer.
Taken from an article in The Reporter, Canada, by Allan Crane, August 2001
“Striking Mezzo Indulges Nostalgia”
The audience was small but enthusiastic at Pender Harbour’s performance centre on August. 20. Titled Love’s Old Sweet Song, Patricia Hammond’s mezzo-soprano recital with David Stratkauskas, piano, was an evening of nostalgia encompassing selections in English and French.
A striking young woman, Hammond (26) wore a long, wine-red, sleeveless embroidered satin dress with a sleeved maroon chiffon overlay She opened the concert with Love’s Old Sweet Song by J L. Molloy (1837-1909) and continued with other songs of this variety.
Her second set included Vaughan Williams’ arrangement of the lovely Dorset folk song Linden Lea, and Herbert Hughes settings of the Irish folk songs, The Sally Gardens and The Next Market Day. These are standard fare with recitalists, and Hammond sang them effectively. She captured the Irish charm of The Next Market Day particularly well.
Patricia Hammond has made tum-of-the-century songs something of a specialty and these were the mainstay of her recital. A thrift store find when she was nine sparked her interest in collecting sheet music. She showed her audience the copy of Neopolitan Nights she got then, a forgotten song by a forgotten composer, LS. Zamecnik. Noting wryly that her piano teacher did not share her enthusiasm, she sang the song.
She was expressive in both the French and English songs, and her spoken introductions enhanced all her musical selections. She provided printed translations as well as the words for the chorus of Sweet Rosie O’Grady in which the audience joined the singer. In all of her selections, Hammond’s singing was distinguished by excellent diction, subtle and well executed ornaments, and tonal variety.
Hammond returns to London, England in September to further her musical career. She has an open invitation to sing for Pender Harbour if she returns to Canada
This is a great CD! Patricia Hammond has a truly beautiful voice; OK, there are other good singers around but she is something really special. You don’t have to speak French to enjoy these beautifully produced songs. Everybody who has heard my copy of this CD reacts in the same way: they want to know who she is and what else she has recorded (the answer to the last, apparently, is nothing, yet. So come on you label people, give us a break). What’s more, the piano accompaniment by Zoe
Mather is hugely accomplished and sensitive.An excellent CD to dip into.
Charles Giles, Hampshire
I find Miss Hammond’s voice able to transport me away from the dreariness of everyday life, into a state of calm and wellbeing that is quite addictive! The songs are charming, and the delivery is without equal…the tone of the piano is splendidly revealing, involving and yet perfectly supporting of the vocal. It is also wonderfully played by Zoe Mather, whose name I have encountered before.
All in all, a true discovery. Treat yourself – you will not be disappointed.
Louis Valmont, Vienna
(I am) very impressed with the standard of playing and singing. A lot of thought must have gone into researching and choosing the repertoire. Charming!
Nicholas Keay, London
when my sister sent me this cd I couldn’t turn it off. The sensitivity and vulnerability of this unusual voice grabbed my emotions by the throat and wouldn’t let go. Even if I couldn’t understand French (and the diction is excellent) I would have understood enough of the meaning from the phrasing and the way it’s sung.
I can’t explain its effect. I just know it works.
Jane Calvert, UK
I’m not normally an enthusiast for French music (other than Berlioz) before Debussy and Ravel, and heard this CD more or less by accident, but I was quickly seduced by this varied, interesting, emotionally rewarding programme, and by a beautiful voice and a sensitive response to the poetry of the songs…The famous “Plaisir d’amour” (Martini) is sung with true sincerity: great sadness but completely devoid of any excessive languishing. “Les Feuilles Mortes” (Kosma) the original of
“Autumn leaves” is a real pleasure to hear sung so beautifully and with restraint….Buy it and enjoy it with your partner!
Michael H. James, Dorset
…a fantastic disc, with the musicians, pianist Zoe Mather, and mezzo-soprano Patricia Hammond, absolutely tops. Patricia Hammond has a meltingly gorgeous voice and she sings these songs in a seductively sweet way. My favourite track has to be ‘Les Feuilles Mortes’ which is the original French version of ‘Autumn Leaves’. You’ve never heard this song sung like this before and you won’t want it any other way after! The tunes are great, the performances great, and there are texts and
translations to all the songs in the generous booklet.
John Deuger, London