Listening to Britten – Of A’ The Airts The Wind Can Blaw

Waveney Dock – image courtesy of the Malcolm R. White website

Of A’ The Airts The Wind Can Blaw – song for voice and piano (1926, Britten aged 13)

Dedication not known
Text Robert Burns
Language English
Duration 1’10”

Background and Critical Reception

Thanks to Philip Reed’s booklet note on the CD release, it appears this is one of the songs Britten wrote to be performed by his mother – indeed, it seems a large percentage of the early songs were for this purpose. The recording by Nicky Spence, made in 2011, is the first time it has been set to disc.


This brief song is one of the more humourous examples of Britten’s work so far, and there is a capricious charm in the way the piano accompaniment scoops up the vocal line. Again we sit in the tonality of F, which perhaps suited Edith Britten’s vocal range. And then, before you know it, it’s all over in just over a minute!

Recordings used
Nicky Spence (tenor), Malcolm Martineau (piano) (Onyx) – world premiere recording

Beautifully sung by Spence, with the words clearly heard. The accompaniment is tastefully pointed by Martineau.


Track 21 on the album

Also written in 1926: Warlock – Capriol Suite

Next up: Prithee

This entry was posted in English, Listening to Britten, Songs, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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