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O, to be in England

O, to be in England

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Spirit of England
England's Favourite Poems

Ref: CDG1213

7 tracks, 63 min
Click here to preview trk 5

Music for a green and pleasant land

A 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.

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O, to be in England
Music for a green and pleasant land

A 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 Judd

2 Chanson de nuit Op 15/1 Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Judd

3 Sumer Music Arnold Bax
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, David Lloyd-Jones

4 On hearing the first cuckoo in Spring Frederick Delius
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, David Lloyd-Jones

5 The Lark Ascending Ralph Vaughan Williams
David Greed, violin, The English Northern Philharmonia conducted by David Lloyd-Jones

6 A Somerset Rhapsody Op 21/2 Gustav Holst (1874-1934)
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by David Lloyd-Jones

7 Tintagel Arnold Bax (1883-1953)
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by David Lloyd-Jones


CCL CDG1213
This compilation P & C 2009 Classical Communications Ltd

O, to be in England
Music for a green and pleasant land

Home-thoughts, from Abroad

O, 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 Browning

English 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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