Hyperion Records

Canticle III 'Still falls the Rain', Op 55
1954; in memory of Noel Mewton-Wood
author of text
The Canticle of the Rose 'The Raids, 1940. Night and Dawn'

'Britten: The Five Canticles' (CDH55244)
Britten: The Five Canticles
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55244  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
Track 3 on CDH55244 [11'47] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)

Canticle III 'Still falls the Rain', Op 55
Canticle III, Still falls the Rain, Op 55, was written in 1954 in memory of the talented Australian pianist Noel Mewton-Wood, whose early death by his own hand had been a severe shock to Britten. The work is scored for tenor, horn and piano, and for his text Britten turned to the twentieth century, choosing Edith Sitwell’s poem ‘The Canticle of the Rose’, which although subtitled ‘The Raids, 1940. Night and Dawn’ is in fact an allegory of Christ’s passion.

As the original poem is quite irregular in metre, a lyrical setting would have been inappropriate, so the text is declaimed in the form of recitatives, culminating in a type of sprechgesang at the climactic moment where the poet quotes a phrase from the end of Christopher Marlowe’s play Doctor Faustus. Between these recitatives, the horn and piano play interludes consisting of a theme and six variations, based on an atonal series of ten notes, whose intervals alternately expand and contract, the final variation serving as a coda. This technique is closely related to the opera The Turn of the Screw, which Britten had recently completed.

from notes by Michael Short © 1992

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDH55244 track 3
Recording date
29 April 1991
Recording venue
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Britten: The Five Canticles (CDA66498)
    Disc 1 Track 3
    Release date: March 1992
    Deletion date: August 2005
    Superseded by CDH55244
  2. Britten: The Five Canticles (CDH55244)
    Disc 1 Track 3
    Release date: October 2006
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
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