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Four Poems of Thomas Campion

premiered in August 2007
author of text

The Four Poems of Thomas Campion was a commission for the BBC Proms, and was premiered by the BBC Symphony Chorus, conducted by Stephen Jackson, at the Royal Albert Hall in August 2007. As the title indicates this cycle takes its texts from the poet, composer, lutenist and physician Thomas Campion (1567-1620), a highly significant figure in English literature and music at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, who wrote the words and music for over 100 lute songs as well as masques for dancing and a treatise on the art of counterpoint. His poems, written for music in the first place, were neglected for about 200 years but have since provided a rich store of texts for subsequent composers. Bennett’s tribute to Campion takes the form of contrasted settings of four very different poems written between 1614 and 1618, creating a four-movement design akin to a tiny vocal symphony or sonata, with the moving ‘Never weather-beaten saile’ and the playfully dramatic ‘Fire, fire!’ functioning as slow movement and scherzo. The authorship of the fourth poem of this cycle, ‘The hours of sleepy night’, was formerly uncertain, but is now generally accepted as that of Campion. The transparent choral textures and kaleidoscopic vocal colouring make this cycle one of the most virtuosic of Bennett’s unaccompanied choral works.

from notes by Malcolm MacDonald © 2012


Bennett (RR): My dancing day & other choral works
SIGCD293Download only


No 1: Winter nights  Now winter nights enlarge
Track 13 on SIGCD293 [2'44] Download only
No 2: Never weather-beaten saile
Track 14 on SIGCD293 [3'53] Download only
No 3: Fire, fire!
Track 15 on SIGCD293 [2'31] Download only
No 4: The hours of sleepy night
Track 16 on SIGCD293 [3'32] Download only

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