Net Drying in Lowestoft – image courtesy of the Malcolm R. White website http://www.maritimelowestoft.co.uk
A Dirge – song for voice and piano (c1926, Britten aged 12)
Dedication not known
Text Percy Bysshe Shelley
Background and Critical Reception
Philip Reed’s booklet note for the Onyx release describes this and other songs from 1926 as songs that ‘reveal Britten’s growing sophistication as a song composer, in particular his skill at reaching to the heart of a poem’s meaning and conveying that in musically satisfying structures’.
Dirge shares with Beware! the key of F minor, and is a brief and largely introverted song. There is a briefly intense passage but in the main this appears to be all about conveying Shelley’s ‘grief too sad for song’. A deep subject indeed for a boy of 12 – and once again, to me at least, tapping in to the spirit of Schubert.
James Geer (tenor), Malcolm Martineau (piano) (Onyx)
Track 3 on the album
Also written in 1926: Janáček – The Makropulos Affair
Next up: Of A’ The Aires The Wind Can Blow