To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin.
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.
Hyperion offers both CDs, and downloads in a number of formats. The site is also available in several languages.
Please use the dropdown buttons to set your preferred options, or use the checkbox to accept the defaults.
It was so bright out in the country. Sunlight warmed the summer meadows. Cornfields were golden. The hay was stacked neatly to dry in the sun.
A duck had built her nest in long shady reeds. Now she was hatching her ducklings. She had been sitting alone and secluded; she’d grown so tired of waiting there. Then at last with a crack, all the shells broke apart one by one. The tiny chicks leapt out and cried, ‘Oh how big is the world’.
The last chick was a strange one. An ugly bird was he, no feathers – and feet such a size. ‘Surely that’s a turkey chick’, cried a gossiping duck, astonished.
One day the little family went to the farm. ‘Now keep your toes well pointed, straighten your backs, and please bow your heads to that grand old duck there, a Spanish duck, she’s proud and noble. See the red marks like a ribbon tied around her ankles. Don’t you think this duck is quite the most distinguished?’ The ducklings bowed and curtsied to pay her homage. Quite soon every little chick was made to feel welcome all around the farm.
Only the poor ugly duckling was rebuffed and not accepted. Because he was ugly. They chased him out of the farmyard. They said they hoped he might be caught by the big tabby cat. Hens came and pecked with their beaks. Ducks came to pinch him, brushing him out of the way. Then the turkey with feathers ruffled like a galleon in full sail, fell in anger upon the helpless duckling. And so the poor chick summoned his courage, jumped the garden wall and ran away.
Small birds stopped singing in the trees and rose up in a flutter. The duckling reflected – ‘Is this all because they think that I’m so ugly?’ Then he shut his eyes and stumbled quickly on his way. He came to a stretch of water. Here there were some wild ducks who quacked at the curious sight: ‘Look at this monster’. The little duckling bowed his eyes and trembled in his fright. ‘You are very ugly.’ The duckling said no word but hid his head beneath his wing. ‘You’re hoping, we reckon, to marry one of us.’ This was not the time for his thoughts to turn to marriage.
So he began his long wandering in the wild. What pain, what endless trouble the duckling bore that terrible autumn.
There were many long days when he trembled in the reeds. He would shiver with panic while stricken with terror, and hunters fired their guns at him without ceasing from the nearby forest. Then an enormous dog tried to catch him with his terrible jaws.
So the days grew long and cold. The frost came, and the water began to turn to ice. The little duckling had to swim and dive to stop the whole lake from freezing. It would make a long and a sad tale if I recounted all that the duckling bore that cold winter.
At last the sun began to shine more brightly; the earth was rekindled by its warm rays. Little larks carolled sweetly, and flowers were in bloom. It was the spring! How the duckling jumped for joy and flapped his wings; all the winter they had grown so large and strong. Taking wing, he floated through the sky – until he reached a garden full of flowers. Oh, it was good to be there.
Gliding through the air came three graceful swans with feathers soft and pure and white. And in spite of his fear the duckling felt he was drawn toward them, they were so noble. But if he should dare to approach, would they not kill him, those great white birds? After all he was an ugly duckling. And yet it would be better if they killed him than to suffer again all the pains he endured through the cold winter time. ‘Oh, kill me right now’, he muttered weakly, bending his head for the blow that would end his sorrow.
But there in the water, what did he see? It was his reflection. So he was not such an ugly little duckling but a snow-white stately swan. What a strange thing to be born in a duck’s nest, hatched from an egg of a snow-white swan!
Now in the warmth of the sun he swam with pride on the lake. Tenderly, swans came to greet and embrace him. He could not have dreamed he would be so happy when he was just an ugly duckling.