Folk songs: 20. Barbara Allen

Anonimo (sec. XVII): Barbara Allen, ballad di origine scozzese. Alfred Deller, controtenore; Desmond Dupré, liuto.

In Scarlet town where I was born
There was a fair maid dwellin’,
Made ev’ry youth cry «Well-a-day.»
Her name was Barbara Allen.

All in the merry month of may,
When green buds they were swellin’,
Young Jemmy Grove on his death-bed lay
For love of Barbara Allen.

So slowly, slowly she came up,
And slowly she came nigh him,
And all she said when there she came:
«Young man, I think you’re dyin’.»

When he was dead, and laid in grave,
Her heart was struck with sorrow.
«Oh mother, mother, make my bed:
For I shall die tomorrow.»

Farewell, she said, ye virgins all,
And shun the fault I fell in:
Henceforth take warning by the fall
Of cruel Barbara Allen.


Folk songs: 18. She Moved through the Fair

Anonimo: She Moved through the Fair, canzone tradizionale irlandese. Alfred Deller, controtenore; Desmond Dupré, liuto.

My young love said to me: My mother won’t mind,
And my father won’t slight you for your lack of kine.
And she stepped away from me and this she did say:
It will not be long, love, ‘til our wedding day.

She stepped away from me and she moved through the fair,
And fondly I watched her move here and move there,
And then she went homeward with one star awake,
As the swan in the evening moves over the lake.

Last night she came to me, she came softly in.
So softly she came that her feet made no din,
And she laid her hand on me, and this she did say:
It will not be long, love, ‘til our wedding day.

La melodia, diffusa in Irlanda e in Scozia, risale probabilmente al basso Medioevo. Il testo è stato pubblicato per la prima volta nella raccolta Irish Country Songs (1909), curata da Herbert Hughes.

Folk songs: 16. Bushes and Briars

Anonimo: Bushes and Briars, canto tradizionale inglese. Alfred Deller, controtenore; Desmond Dupré, liuto.
La «scoperta» di questo brano si deve a Ralph Vaughan Williams, che l’udì cantare da un pastore nell’Essex e ne pubblicò un arrangiamento per coro maschile a 4 voci a cappella nel 1908.

Through bushes and through briars,
I lately took my way;
All for to hear the small birds sing,
And the lambs to skip and play.

I overheard my own true love,
Her voice it was so clear;
Long time I have been waiting
For the coming of my dear.

Sometimes I am uneasy
And troubled in my mind;
Sometimes I think I’ll go to my love
And tell to him my mind.

And if I should go to my love,
My love he will say «Nay»;
If I show to him my boldness,
He’ll ne’er love me again.

L’arrangiamento di Vaughan Williams eseguito da The Gentlemen of St. John’s.

Folk songs: 14. The Tailor and the Mouse

Anonimo: The Tailor and the Mouse. Alfred Deller, controtenore; Desmond Dupré, liuto.

There was a tailor had a mouse,
  Hi diddle um come feed-al,
They lived together in one house,
  Hi diddle um come feed-al.

Chorus :
  Hi diddle um come tarum tantrum,
  Through the town of Ramsey,
  Hi diddle um come over the lea,
  Hi diddle um come feed-al.

The tailor thought his mouse was ill,
He gave him part of a blue pill.

The tailor thought the mouse would die,
He baked him in an apple pie.

The pie was cut, the mouse ran out,
The tailor followed him all about.

The tailor found his mouse was dead,
So he bought another one in his stead.

Folk songs: 11. The Water is Wide

Anonimo: The Water is Wide ovvero Waly, waly, canto di origine scozzese che risale probabilmente all’inizio del XVIII secolo; la versione pubblicata da Cecil Sharp nel volume Folk Songs From Somerset (1906) è quella più frequentemente eseguita. Gli interpreti sono Alfred Deller (controtenore) e Desmond Dupré (liuto).

The water is wide, I cannot get o’er
And neither have I wings to fly,
O give me a boat that will carry two
And both can row, my love and I.

O down in the meadows the other day
A-gathering flow’rs, both fine and gay,
A-gathering flow’rs, both red and blue,
I little thought what love can do.

I lean’d my back up against some oak,
Thinking that he was a trusty tree.
But first he bended and then he broke,
And so did my false love to me.

A ship there is and she sails the sea,
She’s loaded deep as deep can be,
But not so deep as the love I’m in.
I know not if I sink or swim.

O love is handsome and love is fine,
And love’s a jewel while it is new;
But when it is old it groweth cold
And fades away like morning dew.

Folk songs: 10. Down by the Salley Gardens

Herbert Hughes (1882 - 1937): Down by the Salley Gardens, melodia tradizionale irlandese (Maids of Mourne Shore) adattata a un testo di William Butler Yeats (da The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems, 1889). Alfred Deller, controtenore; Desmond Dupré, liuto.

Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.

In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

Folk songs: 6. The Oak and the Ash

Anonimo (secolo XVI): The oak and the ash, ovvero The Northern Lasse’s Lamentation. Alfred Deller, controtenore; Desmond Dupré, liuto.

A North Country maid up to London had strayed
Although with her nature it did not agree,
She wept, and she sighed, and she bitterly cried:
I wish once again in the North I could be.
Oh the oak and the ash and the bonnie ivy tree,
They flourish at home in my own country.

While sadly I roam, I regret my dear home
Where lads and young lasses are making the hay,
The merry bells ring and the birds sweetly sing,
And maidens and meadows are pleasant and gay.
Oh the oak and the ash and the bonnie ivy tree,
They flourish at home in my own country.

No doubt, did I please, I could marry with ease,
Where maidens are fair many lovers will come.
But he whom I wed must be North Country bred,
And carry me back to my North Country home.
Oh the oak and the ash and the bonny ivy tree,
They flourish at home in my own country.

Una serie di variazioni sulla melodia di The Oak and the Ash, opera di Giles Farnaby (c1563 - 1640), si trova con il titolo Quodlings Delight nel Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (n. [CXIV]). Qui la composizione di Farnaby è interpretata al clavicembalo da Pieter-Jan Belder:

La medesima melodia ha inoltre dato origine a diverse danze popolari, fra cui una contraddanza pubblicata con il numero 52 nella fortunata raccolta The English Dancing Master (16511) di John Playford: il brano reca il suggestivo titolo di Goddesses, probabilmente ispirato da quello di un masque, The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses, scritto da Samuel Daniel e rappresentato nel 1604. Ecco Goddesses in un arrangiamento di Bernard Thomas interpretato dal bravissimo Nicolas Fendt, che suona chitarra rinascimentale, liuto-chitarra, flauto dolce soprano, contralto, tenore e basso, e percussioni:

Folk songs: 2. The three ravens

Thomas Ravenscroft (c1582 - c1635): The three ravens. Versione per 1 voce e liuto: Alfred Deller e Desmond Dupré; versione per 4 voci e viol consort: Theatre of Voices diretto da Paul Hillier (voce solista Else Torp) e Fretwork.
Nell’interpretazione di Deller, le strofe sono accorpate a due a due.

There were three ravens sat on a tree,
  down a down, hay down, hay down,
There were three ravens sat on a tree,
  with a down,
There were three ravens sat on a tree,
They were as black as black could be,
  with a down, derry, derry, derry, down, down.

And one of them said to his mate:
Where shall we our breakfast take?

Down, [down] in yonder green field,
There lies a knight slain with his shield.

His hounds they lie down at his feet,
So well they their master keep.

His hawks they fly so eagerly,
There’s no fowl dare him come nie.

Down there comes a fallow doe,
As great with young as she might go.

She lift up his bloody head,
And kissed his wounds that were so red.

She got him up upon her back,
And carried him to earthen lake.

She buried him before the prime.
She was dead herself ere even-song time.

God send every gentleman
Such hawks, such hounds, and such a leman.

Non si hanno molte notizie su Ravenscroft, che però fu molto ammirato e stimato dai musicisti suoi contemporanei. Più che per le sue composizioni originali, è noto per un cospicuo numero di raffinati arrangiamenti di melodie tradizionali — qual è appunto The three ravens — che Ravenscroft pubblicò in tre diverse raccolte: Pammelia (1609), Deuteromelia: or The Second part of Musicks melodie (1609) e Melismata (1611).
Il nome di Ravenscroft comparirà spesso in questo blog 😉

Edward Frederick Brewtnall (1846-1902): The Three Ravens, acquerello su carta, c1883

Che cos’è dunque l’amor, se non doglianza?

Philip Rosseter (1567 o 1568 - 5 maggio 1623): What then is love but mourning?, ayre (1601). Alfred Deller, haute-contre, e Desmond Dupré, liuto.

What then is love but mourning?
What desire but a selfburning?
Till she that hates doth love return,
 Thus will I mourn,
 Thus will I sing,
Come away, come away my darling.

Beauty is but a blooming,
Youth in his glory entombing,
Time hath a while which none can stay,
 Then come away,
 While thus I sing,
Come away, come away my darling.

Summer in winter fadeth,
Gloomy night heav’nly light shadeth,
Like to the mourn are Venus’ flowers,
 Such are her hours,
 Then will I sing,
Come away, come away my darling.