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The Gift of Music | CDs | Themed Collections | O, to be in England
Spirit of England
England's Favourite Poems
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O, to be in EnglandMusic for a green and pleasant landA fine collection of moving and wistful orchestral works which celebrate the English landscape and its natural beauty. English composers have always excelled at pastoral music with a hint of nostalgia: from 'the lark ascending' to the strains of 'Greensleeves' this evocative selection features some of this pleasant land's finest music.1 Fantasia on Greensleeves Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Judd2 Chanson de nuit Op 15/1 Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934)The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Judd3 Sumer Music Arnold BaxThe Royal Scottish National Orchestra, David Lloyd-Jones4 On hearing the first cuckoo in Spring Frederick DeliusThe Royal Scottish National Orchestra, David Lloyd-Jones5 The Lark Ascending Ralph Vaughan WilliamsDavid Greed, violin, The English Northern Philharmonia conducted by David Lloyd-Jones6 A Somerset Rhapsody Op 21/2 Gustav Holst (1874-1934)The Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by David Lloyd-Jones7 Tintagel Arnold Bax (1883-1953)The Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by David Lloyd-JonesCCL CDG1213This compilation P & C 2009 Classical Communications LtdO, to be in EnglandMusic for a green and pleasant landHome-thoughts, from AbroadO, to be in England Now that April 's there, And whoever wakes in England Sees, some morning, unaware, That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf, While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough In England-now! And after April, when May follows, And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows! Hark, where my blossom'd pear-tree in the hedge Leans to the field and scatters on the clover Blossoms and dewdrops-at the bent spray's edge- That 's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over, Lest you should think he never could recapture The first fine careless rapture! And though the fields look rough with hoary dew, All will be gay when noontide wakes anew The buttercups, the little children's dower -Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!Robert BrowningEnglish music-making and composition has long been associated with a reaction to the beautiful and varied rural landscapes of this historic country. Because it is often tinged with nostalgia and a forlorn romanticism, English music has often been undervalued, not least by the British establishment itself. Sir Edward Elgar was keen on being a part of that establishment , and composed much ceremonial and formal music for royal events and state occasions. He resisted the pastoral idiom at all stages of his life, although the 'Chanson de matin' comes pretty close. Vaughan Williams and Arnold Bax, are often thought of as part of an English pastoral tradition stretching back centuries. All these composers were fascinated by English folk music and both used folk songs as the melodic basis of many of their works. But let's not forget that Vaughan Williams studied in Paris with Ravel - he was not particularly enamoured of lightweight composing and both was steeped in a fundamentally European tradition of the highest order. Vaughan Williams' incredibly fine understanding of orchestral writing reflects this. Bax's tone poems fit into the pastoral mode, too, and we enjoy them particularly for this today: but they are also rigorously constructed works by a fine symphonist who was clearly aware of the techniques of Brahms and Bruckner. Bax was fascinated by Celtic legend and English history. This is reflected in the subject matter of Tintagel with its association with King Arthur: 'the castle-crowned cliff of Tintagel, and
the long distances of the Atlantic, as seen from the cliffs of Cornwall on a sunny but not windless summer day.' Gustav Holst loved the English countryside, having been brought up in Gloucestershire on the edge of the Cotswolds. His most famous work is 'The Planets', an orchestral tour de force of the highest order. The 'Somerset Rhapsody' features several folk tunes wrapped up in a sophisticated orchestral texture. It was written at the suggestion of Cecil Sharp, the great collector of English folk music who was also a friend of Vaughan Williams.
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