Hyperion Records

Choral dances from Gloriana, 1954 version
first performed on 7 March 1954
author of text

'Britten: Sacred and Profane & other choral works' (CDH55438)
Britten: Sacred and Profane & other choral works
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55438  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
No 1: Time  Yes he is Time
Track 14 on CDH55438 [1'26] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
No 2: Concord  Concord, Concord is here
Track 15 on CDH55438 [2'22] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
No 3: Time and Concord  From springs of bounty
Track 16 on CDH55438 [1'27] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
No 4: Country girls  Sweet flag and cuckoo flower
Track 17 on CDH55438 [1'01] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
No 5: Rustics and fishermen  From fen and meadow
Track 18 on CDH55438 [0'55] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
No 6: Final dance of homage  These tokens of our love receiving
Track 19 on CDH55438 [2'29] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)

Choral dances from Gloriana, 1954 version
Britten’s opera Gloriana, Op 53, was first performed at a gala event at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on 8 June 1953 in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II, in honour of whose coronation (which had taken place just six days before) the work had been composed. Although popular with the general public, who flocked enthusiastically to the early run of performances, the opera was harshly treated in the national press: critics who were already sceptical of the composer’s meteoric rise to fame were delighted that the audience at the gala premiere—largely made up of unmusical diplomats and other dignitaries—was baffled by the work, and offended by its warts-and-all portrayal of an ageing monarch. Always pathologically sensitive to criticism, Britten made little attempt to promote the opera after this unfortunate debacle and it only became established in the mainstream operatic repertory many years after his death. He nevertheless salvaged certain parts of the score and sanctioned their use in concert performances.

The set of six Choral dances from ‘Gloriana’ for unaccompanied chorus was first performed by the BBC Midland Chorus in a broadcast on 7 March 1954; the set was later rearranged to include tenor solo and harp obbligato for a performance to mark the opening of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, in 1967. The dances occur in the first scene of the opera’s second act, which portrays a colourful masque at Norwich’s Guildhall attended by Queen Elizabeth I during a royal progress. Britten had intended this scene to combine vivid pageantry with a homage to Elizabethan song and dance, but later felt that it impeded the dramatic flow of the opera as a whole, and in some later productions the entire scene was cut. The sequence begins with the appearance of the demigod Time, ‘lusty and blithe’, who is followed by his wife Concord. Her song is set to music made up entirely of concords, a deliberate witticism on Britten’s part. After Time and Concord have danced together, country girls, rustics and fishermen join in the celebrations before the concluding ‘Dance of homage’ to the visiting sovereign.

from notes by Mervyn Cooke İ 2001

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDH55438 track 18
Rustics and fishermen
Recording date
27 April 2000
Recording venue
Temple Church, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. Britten: Sacred and Profane & other choral works (CDA67140)
    Disc 1 Track 18
    Release date: March 2001
    Deletion date: August 2010
    Superseded by CDH55438
  2. Britten: Sacred and Profane & other choral works (CDH55438)
    Disc 1 Track 18
    Release date: December 2012
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
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