Warlock: The Curlew; Lillygay; Peterisms; Saudades

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COMPOSERS: Warlock
LABELS: Collins
WORKS: The Curlew; Lillygay; Peterisms; Saudades
PERFORMER: Adrian Thompson (tenor), Christopher Maltman (baritone), John Constable (piano), Philippa Davies (flute), Christine Pendrill (cor anglais), Duke Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 15002
Warlock wrote upwards of 100 songs and an enormous number of transcriptions and scholarly editings of Elizabethan and Jacobean music that were among the forerunners of the revival of interest in early music. This enterprising collection includes the first and second sets of Peterisms, the Saudades and the Lillygay songs.

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Warlock’s melancholy masterpiece The Curlew is based on four Yeats poems in a setting for tenor, string quartet, cor anglais (representing the cry of the curlew) and flute (the peewit). Thompson and the instrumentalists evoke the desolation and despair of human heartbreak – as well as the supernatural – set against the loneliness of a barren, mist-shrouded landscape with wintry winds and withered boughs.

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All the other songs show Warlock’s gift for melody, fine sense of shape and colour and sensitive setting of words – always preserving the sense of the period in which they were written but overlaid with his own style. They range from the plaintive and sad, such as the delicate ‘Along the Stream’ and the dark but exquisite Christmas song ‘The Frostbound Wood’, to the merry and boisterous, like the aptly named drinking song ‘Peter Warlock’s Fancy’, in which Christopher Maltman scornfully thrusts aside meat for beer. Ian Lace