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Anon in love
author of text
possibly by Tobias Hume, c1596-1645

'Walton: Chamber Music' (CDA67340)
Walton: Chamber Music
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67340 
No 1: Fain would I change that note
No 2: O stay, sweet love
No 3: Lady, when I behold the roses
No 4: My love in her attire
No 5: I gave her cakes and I gave her ale
No 6: To couple is a custom

Anon in love
Anon in Love arose from a commission by the tenor Peter Pears and the guitarist Julian Bream who gave the premiere at Shrubland Park Hall, Ipswich, on 21 June 1960 during the Aldeburgh Festival. Pears had suggested to Walton that in concept the work might have the character of a ‘one-man opera’; this appealed to the composer who turned to Christopher Hassall, the librettist of his opera Troilus and Cressida, for advice. Six anonymous sixteenth- and seventeenth-century lyrics on the subject of love emerged as the texts, which Hassall chose from the anthology The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems edited by Gerald Bullett. Walton himself coined the witty title. As writing for the guitar was a new challenge for the composer, Bream demonstrated its characteristics to him and provided a diagram of the fingerboard.

The first three lyrics were also used by English Renaissance lute and madrigal composers, and are found respectively in Hume’s Musicall Humors (1605), John Farmer’s first book of madrigals (1599) and John Wilbye’s first book of madrigals (1598). Throughout the songs Walton reflects the spirit of such composers: rhythmic conceits within the poems are exploited; so too is the expressive potential of word-play, as heard in the first setting with its wide, expressive intervals for the voice and the aching dissonance between voice and guitar at the opening.

The second song with its puckish accompaniment finds the lover in cajoling mood, although the saucy punch line of the object of his desire shows that his earnest endeavours were unnecessary! In the third the lover compares the colour of damask roses to his lover’s lips in an ardent vocal line that reaches a sensuous climax, appropriately, on the word ‘lips’. The fourth song has a vivacious scherzo-like quality with the voice part mainly in quavers until it pointedly changes to staccato crotchets for the final pert line, ‘When all her robes are gone’. In ‘I gave her cakes and I gave her ale’ the music has a rollicking character with virtuoso writing for both voice and guitar featuring glissandi, grace-notes and the body of the guitar tapped in imitation of a drum. The melody of the final song is almost like a folk song which in the first three verses is accompanied by the nonchalant ‘vamping’ of the guitar. In the final verse, however, both voice and guitar increasingly become more animated with syncopated rhythms and misplaced accents that create a mood of heady anticipation at the prospect of the lover winning his lady’s hand.

from notes by Andrew Burn © 2002

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Details for CDA67340 track 8
My love in her attire
Recording date
20 March 2002
Recording venue
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. Walton: Chamber Music (CDA67340)
    Disc 1 Track 8
    Release date: September 2002
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