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Ballad of Green Broom from Five Flower Songs SATB a cappella

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48008876
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Overview
from Five Flower Songs SATB a cappella
Text: anon.

Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes

Difficulty level: 3-4

These lovely, classic part-songs were written as a 25th wedding anniversary present for Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst of Dartington Hall. Apparently Britten chose the subject matter because they were keen botanists. Whatever the reason for the choice, it was a supremely happy one and brought from Britten a set of pieces which, while in a direct lineof descent from the classic part-songs of Elgar, Stanford and Parry, ar e entirely original.

These songs are designed as a set. The mood-scape shows that Britten was keenly aware of the variety needed to satisfy performers and audience between bookends. The unsentimental originality of To Daffodils with its tempo marking of Allegro impetuoso focusing on the speedy demise of the flower which is of course a metaphor for thepassing of life; the clever division into four voices for the four mont hs in The Succession of the Four Sweet Months and that beautifully simple device at the end where each month is named and forms a lovely cadence; the bitter-sweet Marsh Flowers to its poem by George Crabbe and the way Britten makes a slightly menacing atmosphere relieved only by the description of gentler plants; the ever-so-slightly sentimental Evening Primrose, the slow movement of the set; and finally Green Broom, a tour-de-force of humour which is crowned, at its heart, by Britten's slightly hysterical altos singing 'Go fetch me the boy'! The gradual accelerando throughout this piece leading to the final flourish makes this a wonderful and exciting finale to a set of part-songs which should be at the heart of any choirs repertoire.

Points for choral directors to look outfor include the tempo of To Daffodils. The key is in the direction Alle gro impetuoso. Somewhere in the region of crotchet = 116 should be the aim. Within that tempo use the words to colour the interpretation. Look out, as always, for Britten's carefully marked articulation and watch outfor the big dynamic contrasts and colours. Tuning is the issue in both No.2 and No.3. In the opening of Marsh Flowers be careful of the size ofintervals and in the second bar use the two anchors of F and C# to try to ensure that pitch doesnt slip. The return to a note which has alreadybeen sung should always be fractionally higher (masked by the change of vowel) thus ensuring that the pitch is always kept in place. In Green B room it is issues of ensemble more than anything which provide the majorchallenge. This, and the stepping of increases in speed which should be measured so that the end does not become dangerously out of hand!
Duration: 12 minutes

Paul Spicer, Lichfield, 2011
More Information
SKU 930036039670
Manufacturer Boosey & Hawkes
Last Updated 2022-08-18 12:30:56
Model Number 48008876
Is Oversized No
Series BH Secular Choral
Medium Octavo
Publisher Boosey & Hawkes
Composer Benjamin Britten
Accompaniment A Cappella
Instrument CHORAL
Pages 16(07)
Composer/Series BRITTEN
Production Status 2
Digital Download No