Sir Hubert Parry: Jerusalem; Under the Greenwood Tree

21 09 2009

It’s a two-for-one day!

by Scott St. George (used under Creative Commons)

picture by Scott St. George (used under Creative Commons)

And did those feet in ancient times walk upon England’s mountains green?

Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (referred to as C.H.H. Parry or Sir Hubert Parry) does not have the same name recognition, perhaps, as some of his contemporaries or successors (Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Finzi, or Quilter, to name a few) despite his distinguished positions at the Royal College of Music and Oxford University. Regardless, his noble, stately setting of William Blake’s poem, Jerusalem,  has become something of an unofficial English national anthem.

Dame Felicity Lott was one of the first lyric sopranos I ever heard who grasped me with not just her beautiful voice, but also with herability to really communicate a text; I still remember her vividly as Pamina in the video of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and as Anne Truelove in the recording of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. So when I came across her 2004 CD of English Song, entitled “My Own Country,” I knew I had to feature it, especially when combined with a discovery of a vast public domain treasure trove of songs by Parry.

Under the Greenwood Tree is another great example of Parry’s ability to create a sound-world in music that echoes the mood of the text. The music is playful throughout, but the enemies of “winter and rough weather” sound stark, though not particularly threatening.

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
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Ludwig van Beethoven: Come draw we round a cheerful ring, from Irish songs, WoO 152, No. 11

17 03 2009

No, Gossip Winter, snug within, we have no room for thee.

"No, Gossip Winter, snug within, we have no room for thee."

One of the hallmarks of the Irish is their love of stories, music, and community. Though not Irish, Beethoven caught the festive mood of a celebration in this catchy tune.

Beethoven wrote three sets of Irish songs for voice and string trio at the behest of Scottish folk song collector and publisher George Thomson. The songs range from quick and lively to heart-rendingly touching.

As it is St. Patrick’s day, I was searching for musical scores of Irish music this morning. Since I couldn’t find the Beethoven songs, I offer instead an online volume of Sixty Irish Songs, edited by William Arms Fisher.