Sir Roger de Coverley
is perhaps the best known of all the traditional English dance tunes. In his energetic treatment from 1922, Bridge has reflected its chief function as a dashing finale to a Christmas Ball. He makes ingenious and highly entertaining use of the tune, both as a source of motivic cells and as a complete theme for variations. The result is an elaborate and colourful set of continuous variations—essentially a short choreographic poem. Of particular interest are the appearance of Auld lang syne
as a counter-melody to the penultimate variation, and the increasing complexity of the surrounding textures in the second half, with a ‘whirlwind’ climax, ending most appropriately with the ushering in of the New Year.
from notes by Paul Hindmarsh © 2013