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The Deaf Woman's Courtship

First line:
Old woman, old woman, are you fond of smoking?
Appalachian folk song collected by Cecil Sharp
1952; composed as a duet for Kathleen Ferrier and Peter Pears
author of text
collected by Cecil Sharp

In 1952, Britten prepared a comic duet arrangement of the Appalachian folksong ‘The Deaf Woman’s Courtship’ for Kathleen Ferrier to sing as part of a national tour with Pears and Britten conceived with the aim of raising funds for the English Opera Group. According to Britten’s memoir of Ferrier, she sang her part ‘in a feeble, cracked voice, the perfect reply to Peter’s magisterial roar. A masterpiece of humour, which had the audience rocking, but never broke the style of the rest of the concert.’ After Ferrier’s untimely death, the contralto part was taken over by Norma Procter, though the arrangement was to remain unpublished until 2001.

from notes by Mervyn Cooke © 2010

En 1952, Britten arrangea pour duo comique le folksong appalachien «The Deaf Woman’s Courtship» afin que Kathleen Ferrier le chantât, avec Pears et lui, lors d’une tournée nationale visant à lever des fonds pour l’English Opera Group. Ferrier, se souvint-il, chanta sa partie «d’une voix faiblarde, cassée, parfaite réplique au magistral rugissement de Peter. Un chef-d’œuvre d’humour, qui ébranlait l’auditoire, mais sans jamais briser le style du reste du concert.» Après la mort prématurée de Ferrier, la partie de contralto fut confiée à Norma Procter, même si cet arrangement demeura inédit jusqu’en 2001.

extrait des notes rédigées par Mervyn Cooke © 2010
Français: Hypérion

1952 komponierte Britten das Arrangement für ein komisches Duett auf Grundlage eines Appalachen-Volkslieds namens „The Deaf Woman’s Courtship“ für Kathleen Ferrier anlässlich einer britischen Tournee mit Britten und Pears zur Beschaffung von Mitteln für die English Opera Group. Britten erinnerte sich, dass Kathleen Ferrier ihren Part „mit schwächlich-brüchiger Stimme im perfekten Kontrast zu Peters bombastischem Dröhnen sang. Ein Meisterstück an Humor, der das Publikum in Lachkrämpfe versetzte, aber niemals den Stil des übrigen Konzerts beeinträchtigte.“ Nach Kathleen Ferriers frühem Tod wurde ihr Part von Norma Procter übernommen, wenngleich das Arrangement erst 2001 veröffentlicht wurde.

aus dem Begleittext von Mervyn Cooke © 2010
Deutsch: Henning Weber


Britten: Songs & Proverbs of William Blake


Track 32 on CDA67778 [1'31]

Track-specific metadata for CDA67778 track 32

Recording date
13 December 2008
Recording venue
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. Britten: Songs & Proverbs of William Blake (CDA67778)
    Disc 1 Track 32
    Release date: June 2010
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