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‘I shall not die for thee’ is a diatribe by a man determined not to fall for a particular woman’s beauty and charms. The music features suitably severe harmony and musical imagery in the melodic lines, for instance, the spiky quavers at ‘sharp wit’ and florid evocation of her ‘blue eye’. ‘Dear dark head’ is a passionate love song, featuring a tenor solo aching with ardour and sensuous harmony to heighten words, for instance, at ‘mouth of honey’.
‘Popular song’ has a swinging folksong-like melody, with a jaunty underlying choral accompaniment, as the would-be lover tries to steal a kiss from the object of his desire. Maw later discovered that this ballad ‘had a charming tune of its own that bears a strong rhythmic resemblance to mine, as well as several more verses that deal with the young man’s unrequited love for a girl from Bunclody and subsequent decision to emigrate to America. Who would have guessed such an outcome from this blithe opening?’
‘Ringleted youth of my love’ is another love song in which the lover laments that his beloved is absent in tender and caressing music. The last song, ‘Jig’, Maw suggests, ‘introduces a note of urban sophistication into the praise of country life and love and the changing seasons.’ It provides a light-hearted finale, setting words laced with wry wit to a winning tune that is passed around the voices.
from notes by Andrew Burn © 2007
|Maw: One foot in Eden still, I stand & other choral works|
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