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The Curlew

composer
1920-22
author of text

 
The first version of The Curlew was performed in 1920 and consisted of five settings of poems by W B Yeats. In 1922, in Wales, Warlock reconsidered the work. He dropped the original third and fourth songs, substituting the present long and complex third song. It was published in this revised form in 1922, receiving an award from the Carnegie Trust.

The substantial introduction opens with the cor anglais giving out the cry of the curlew, taken over by the viola. This is followed by the rocking theme on the strings also used in the Serenade. The flute then has the peewit’s call, with its many repeated notes. After a brief climax the rocking theme returns, then a cello solo leads into the first song. This passionate outburst is succeeded by a short interlude based on the introductory material. The second song is self-contained; it appeared in both versions of The Curlew, and was probably written about 1916. After the next interlude, a recitative for cor anglais and some development of the rocking theme, comes the new song, a setting of Yeats’s The withering of the boughs, with three strongly contrasted verses, each ending with the words which could be considered the core of the cycle: ‘The boughs have withered because I have told them my dreams’.

The final interlude is dominated by chords built up from piles of fourths, and more flute calls. This leads into the last song, virtually unaccompanied, until the viola ends the work with a modified inversion of the cor anglais opening phrase, subsiding onto an empty, hopeless, bare fifth with the cello.

from notes by Michael Pilkington © 1997

Recordings

Warlock: The Curlew, Capriol, Serenade & Songs
CDA66938
Vaughan Williams: On Wenlock Edge; Warlock: The Curlew; Gurney: Ludlow and Teme
Studio Master: CKD296Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Details

Track 7 on CKD296 [22'18] Download only
No 1: The curlew
Track 17 on CDA66938 [7'15]
No 2: Pale brows, still hands
Track 18 on CDA66938 [1'40]
No 3: I cried when the moon
Track 19 on CDA66938 [9'06]
No 4: Interlude
Track 20 on CDA66938 [2'49]
No 5: I wander by the edge
Track 21 on CDA66938 [1'43]

Track-specific metadata for CKD296 track 7

Artists
ISRC
GB-ASH-07-29607
Duration
22'18
Recording date
23 November 2006
Recording venue
Christ's Hospital School, Horsham, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Philip Hobbs
Recording engineer
Philip Hobbs
Hyperion usage
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