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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67316
Recording details: July 2001
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: March 2002
Total duration: 9 minutes 45 seconds

Peacock Pie 'Suite for string orchestra and piano'

So many British composers from the earlier part of the twentieth century have found the simple children’s verse of Walter de la Mare an inspiration for music, notably in the period immediately after the nightmare of 1914/18. De la Mare’s archetypal collection, Peacock Pie: a book of rhymes, from which Gibbs takes his title, first appeared in 1913. Each of the three movements of Gibbs’s work takes its title and mood from the de la Mare poem standing at the head of the music. Thus the first movement, ‘The Huntsmen’:

Three jolly gentlemen,
In coats of red,
Rode their horses
Up to bed.

The contrast from the brilliance of ‘The Huntsmen’ to ‘The Sunken Garden’ is achieved by using muted strings throughout, with a pianissimo piano part consisting almost entirely of a soft low E in the left hand playing across the bar.

Speak not – whisper not;
Here bloweth thyme and bergamot

This time the words come from de la Mare’s 1918 collection, Motley and Other Poems.

For the third movement ‘The Ride-by-Nights’ we are back with Peacock Pie in Gibbs’s favourite galloping 6/8 time.

Up on their brooms their Witches stream,
Crooked and black in the crescent’s gleam;
One foot high, and one foot low,
Bearded, cloaked, and cowled, they go.

There is, however, nothing spooky or fearsome about these witches; they are strictly of the nursery, and a nursery remembered through nostalgic adult eyes.

from notes by Lewis Foreman 2002

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