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Track(s) taken from CDH55438

Five Flower Songs, Op 47

First line:
There was an old man liv'd out in the wood
composer
Spring 1950; first performed on 23 July 1950 at Dartington Hall; dedicated to Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst

Polyphony, Stephen Layton (conductor)
Recording details: April 2000
Temple Church, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: March 2001
Total duration: 2 minutes 15 seconds

Cover artwork: Sacred and Profane Love (c1515) by Titian (c1488-1576)
Galleria Borghese, Rome / Bridgeman Art Library, London
 
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Other recordings available for download

The Rodolfus Choir, Ralph Allwood (conductor)

Reviews

'The programme is delightful and the choir excellent … this has to be one of the strongest winners of the choral award in recent years' (Gramophone)

'Polyphony's brand of singing, clean as a whistle, rhythmically wonderfully alive, impeccably tuned and voiced, polished yet always fervent, is justly renowned, and on this disc it serves Britten's a capella choral music extremely well' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Musically impeccable, carefully wound and tuned, superbly balanced—a magnificent display of sheer beauty of choral sound' (American Record Guide)

'After hearing their latest CD of choral works by Britten, nothing will dissuade me from the conclusion that Polyphony under Stephen Layton is the best chamber choir in the country' (The Evening Standard)

'A valued possession … highly recommended' (Cathedral Music)

'Polyphony's exceptional energy, technical prowess and expressive flexibility make the most of every word and mood throughout this hour-long programme. This engrossing anthology of words and music comes highly recommended' (The Age, Melbourne)
If Britten abjured the manner of his immediate English predecessors and contemporaries in the sacred choral music of the forties, in the Five Flower Songs Op 47, first performed in the spring of 1950 he directly emulated it. Here are five charming pieces, written for botanical enthusiasts Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst of Dartington, that follow in the line of pastoral English part-songs, the staple diet of Edwardians Elgar, Parry and Stanford. The songs move from the delicate imitative music of the Herrick setting To daffodils to a more wistful approach in The succession of the four sweet months by the same poet. Then comes Marsh flowers by George Crabbe; this poet wrote the original poem of Peter Grimes and Britten retained a fondness for him throughout his life. The melodic lines are more angular here and the harmonic language frequently pushes away from the more stable world of the first two songs as the composer describes a series of less immediately attractive plants such as the ‘slimy root’ of the strong mallow or ‘dull nightshade’ with her ‘deadly root’. John Clare’s The evening primrose returns us to a more gentle and pensive world and this short cycle finishes with a boisterous rendition of the Ballad of green Broom, as the singers tell the cheerful tale in music of increasing pace and virtuosity.

from notes by Simon Whalley 2013

Other albums featuring this work

Mealor & Britten: … the flowers have their angels
Studio Master: SIGCD366Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
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