These songs were written for Alison Chew – to whom they are dedicated – who gave the first performance of them in Needham Market church, Suffolk (England), in 1989. As there was no piano in the church a harpsichord was borrowed to provide accompaniments for the concert. The accompaniments to A Choice of Song were written consciously exploiting figurations and extures suitable to the harpsichord and perhaps even bear some imprint of Baroque musical rhetoric.
On revising the score in 2017-2018 for publication the accompaniments were refashioned for piano so their archaic stylisation is further removed from the original. In seeking an appropriate style and textural colouring in performance it might be worth bearing in mind how the songs were originally conceived. Settling punctuation in the poems is problematic as standardization was established long after any of the poems were written and different sources provided different punctuations. Compromise solutions are offered in the score. Some surprising textural alternatives were also discovered whilst trying to settle on a reliable text. Singers who already know the poems or who undertake research on them and thereby become strongly attached to other versions may exchange words if they wish. Where a slight alteration to rhythm has to be made to accommodate this, it may be done feely.
If more drastic operations are required it would be better to sing the printed text and offer alternatives in a written or spoken programme note.Although written for a mezzo soprano, these songs might fall within the range of other voices, female or male.
- Song from Archades (Milton)
- A Choice (De Vere)
- Dirge (Munday)
- Saint Hugh (Dekker)
- To his Lute (Wyatt)