Lincolnshire Posy (1937)
PERCY GRAINGER (ed. Frederick Fennell)
As Percy Grainger himself has written, Lincolnshire Posy is a “bunch of musical wildflowers” based on folksongs collected in Lincolnshire, England, in 1905-06. Grainger was a picturesque nationalist who tried to retain something of the original flavor of British folk songs and their singers by strict observance of peculiarities of performance, such as varying beat lengths and the use of “primitive” techniques such as parallelism. The first movement, Dublin Bay (later changed by Grainger to Lisbon), is a sailor’s song in a brisk 6/8 meter with “plenty of lilt.” The song is presented three times with changing accompaniment. The second song, Horkstow Grange, presents another simple melody, reharmonized in each of its recurrences. True to the rendition of the folk singer, the accents shift constantly throughout as the number of quarter notes in the measure changes from four to five to three to six and back again. The third song, Rufford Park Poachers, is the longest and most complex of the settings. The opening duo (piccolo and clarinet) presents an assymetrical melody which is followed exactly two eighth-notes later by another duo of Eb clarinet and bass clarinet. The blurring of the line, the four-octave spread of the canons, and the subsequent ominous brass figures which fade in and out of the background textures represent glimpses of the dangerous poachers in their boats weaving in and out of the pre-dawn mist. The fourth song, The Brisk Young Sailor, is a simple jaunty chanty, during which one can well imagine the confident young lad striding up the road to meet his sweetheart. The fifth song, Lord Melbourne, begins in free time, “heavy and fierce.” The conductor is instructed to vary the length of the beats as folk singers do. The final song, The Lost Lady Found, completes the set with a conventional setting in straight 3/4 time and with usual patterns of accompaniment.
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