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The words are a passionate expression of excitement at the sight and sounds of the sea (specifically prompted by Ireland's love of Jersey, it seems) matched by a chordal accompaniment which for the most part features Ireland's trade-mark nut-brown richness of sound. For all the urgency suggested by the words, the song is marked 'Lento', and the performance featured in this recording adopts a broad tempo. The question of the appropriate speed has nonetheless long been a matter of some debate. Ireland made it clear that he preferred a slower speed to make sure that the rich piano harmonies shone through. John Masefield, on the other hand, hated the song largely on account of the dirge-like performances that were usually served up. Apparently only the singer Gordon Cleather received his imprimatur for the speed and urgency he brought to the song.
from notes by Andrew Green © 1999
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