There is still music from recent Spacious Vision performances to share! Over on our SoundCloud audio archive, we have a live performance by Jonathan Mack of a relatively unknown Britten folk song setting. It’s the comedic “The Brisk Young Widow,” from 1954. (The song uses a tune from Somerset, collected by Cecil Sharp in 1905). The recording is from our Nov. 2013 “Britten in Song” concert.
Click here for Jonathan’s performance. Kristof van Grysperre is at the piano. The song has several verses, and you can seem them here, or all on the SoundCloud page.
In Chester town there liv’d
A brisk young widow.
For beauty and fine clothes
None could excel her.
She was proper stout and tall,
Her fingers long and small,
She’s a comely dame withall,
She’s a brisk young widow.
A lover soon there came,
A brisk young farmer,
With his hat turn’d up all round,
Seeking to gain her.
“My dear, for love of you
This wide world I’d go through
If you will but prove true
You shall wed a farmer.”
Says she: “I’m not for you
Nor no such fellow.
I’m for a lively lad
With lands and riches,
‘Tis not your hogs and yowes
Can maintain furbelows,
My silk and satin clothes
Are all my glory”.
“O madam, don’t be coy
For all your glory,
For fear of another day
And another story.
If the world on you should frown
Your top-knot must come down
To a Lindsey-woolsey gown.
Where is then your glory?”
At last there came that way
A sooty collier,
With his hat bent down all round,
And soon he did gain her:
Whereat the farmer swore,
“The widow’s mazed, I’m sure.
I’ll never court no more
A brisk young widow!”
Following up our January 16 post featuring Jonathan Mack, here is a second Britten folk song setting. The author of “At the mid hour of night” was poet and songwriter Thomas Moore’s, whose collection “Irish Melodies” from was published in 1807. Moore’s poem is typical of the lyrical nostalgia found in much Irish poetry of that era. Jonathan’s rendition of Britten’s arrangement perfectly captures this feeling.
Click here to view the video of Jonathan Mack singing “At the mid hour of night.”
Kristof Van Grysperre is at the piano. This is from the 2013 concert by the Spacious Vision Song Project at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glendale, CA.
From our 2013 “Britten in Song” concert at St. Mark’s in Glendale, CA, here is a video performance by tenor Jonathan Mack of “The Salley Gardens,” one of Britten’s most popular folk song settings. Jonathan’s performance perfectly captures the intimacy of the song, and his vocalism recalls (and surpasses) the classic recording by Peter Pears. Kristof Van Grysperre is at the piano. Read on for a few clues to enhance your enjoyment!
Background. Down by the Salley Gardens (Irish: Gort na Saileán) is a poem by William Butler Yeats, first published in 1889. It was based on the words of an older folk song, to which Yeats added new words of his own. The tune Britten used for his 1943 setting was “The Moorlough Shore,” which Irish composer Herbert Hughes had also used for his classic 1909 setting of the Yeats poem.
Some clues. The “Salley Gardens” may have been on the banks of the river at Ballysadare near Sligo. “Salley” or “sally” is a form of the Standard English word “sallow”, i.e., a tree of the genus Salix. It is close in sound to the Irish word saileach, meaning willow.
Click here for the video of “The Salley Gardens.”
- Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.
- In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.
We are honored to announce that acclaimed tenor Jonathan Mack will join us for “Britten in Song.” Jonathan’s operatic repertory spans more than 50 operatic roles, and he has performed with the Los Angeles Opera over more than 18 seasons, as well as appearing with companies such as the Netherlands Opera, Vancouver Opera, Kentucky Opera, and Opera Columbus. His concert credits include solo appearances with major orchestras such as the London Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Minnesota Orchestra. The list of conductors with whom he has worked in opera, oratorio, and concert repertoire is extensive, and includes Carlo-Maria Giulini, Zubin Mehta, Andre Previn, Pierre Boulez, Simon Rattle, Christopher Hogwood, and Michael Tilson-Thomas. Jonathan has also diversified his career work with studio singing for more than 100 projects, ranging from television’s Studio 60 to The Simpsons Movie. When not sharing his artistry in performance, Jonathan teaches at the University of Southern California, Chapman University, and in master class settings around the United States.