Five Flower Songs; Op. 47 by : Benjamin Britten
for unaccompanied SATB
Texts:1. To Daffodils - Robert Herrick
2. The Succession of the Four Sweet Months - Robert Herrick
3. Marsh Flowers - George Crabbe
4. The Evening Primrose - John Clare
5. The Ballad of Green Broom - 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 line of descent from the classic part-songs of Elgar; Stanford and Parry; are 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 the passing of life; the clever division into four voices for the four months 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 out for include the tempo of To Daffodils. The key is in the direction Allegro 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
. . . . Sample Audio & etc. . . .
Five Flower Songs (performance excerpt)
On the recording
|Publisher||Boosey & Hawkes|
| Format ||SATB a cappella|
| Length x Width x Height||10.2 x 7.25 x 0.145 inches |
| Shipping Weight||0.35 pounds |
|East Coast Music Product Code ||ZHL48011505|
|UPC Code||73999733334 |
|Voicing Description||SATB a cappella|
| 1st Publication Date||06/2004|
Title: TO DAFFODILS
Title: SUCCESSION OF THE FOUR SWEET MONTHS; THE
Title: MARSH FLOWERS
Title: EVENING PRIMROSE; THE
Title: BALLAD OF GREEN BROOM
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