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Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.
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Cold is the air, The woods are bare And brown; the herd Stand in the yard. The frost doth fall; And round the hill The hares move slow; The homeward crow, Alone and high, Crosses the sky All silently. The quick streams freeze; The moving trees Are still; for now No breeze will blow: The wind has gone With the day, down, And clouds are come Bearing the gloom. The yellow grass In the clear glass Of the bright pool Grows soft and dull. The water’s eye That held the sky Now glazes quite; And now the light On the cold hill Fadeth, until The giant mass Doth seem to pass From near to far; The clouds obscure The sky with gloom: The night is come, The night is come.
Langdon Elwyn Mitchell (1862-1935)
The songs for Set VIII, published in the same year as Set VII, were composed between 1904 and 1906. Nightfall in winter and Dirge in woods are the two most expansive songs in the collection, suggesting perhaps a new atmospheric departure in Parry’s song-writing. Nightfall, taken from Poems (1894) by Langdon Elwyn Mitchell (a pseudonym for the American poet, John Philip Varley), is an evocation of a winter evening, still and frozen, vividly portrayed in the somewhat uncharacteristically austere textures of Parry’s accompaniment.
A wind sways the pines, And below Not a breath of wild air; Still as the mosses that glow On the flooring and over the lines Of the roots here and there. The pine-tree drops its dead; They are quiet, as under the sea. Overhead, overhead Rushes life in a race, As the clouds the clouds chase; And we go, And we drop like the fruits of the tree, Even we, Even so.
George Meredith (1828-1909)
Meredith’s Dirge in woods, taken from A Reading of Earth (1888), paints an eternally active scene of nature (symbolized by the wind), but human life is transient, like the cones that drop from the pine to earth blown by the wind above. These two levels are in a sense captured by Parry in the tonal fluctuation from G major (which opens the song) to E minor which marks the end of the prelude. This certainly becomes significant in the later part of the song where E minor, as the symbol of man’s mortality, comes to the fore (‘And we go, And we drop like the fruits of the tree’) on a dominant pedal. No resolution occurs, however, and G major returns (‘Even we’) in the form of the preludial material. The conclusion of this passage once again is in E minor, which appears to be confirmed by the stoical vocal statement (‘Even so’); yet it is left to the piano, rather chillingly, to provide a final confirmation of G.