Boosey & Hawkes
SATB a cappella
Text: William Plomer
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Difficulty level: 2-3
These colourful pieces [Choral Dances] form a masque in the opera which was performed for Queen Elizabeth I (Gloriana) on her visit to Norwich and performed by local people for her entertainment and in loyal homage. Each short scena represents a different group: Time, Concord, country girls, (S/A) young rustics and fishermen (T/B) and a finale in which all pay homage to their Queen. In the version for tenor solo with harp and chorus these movements are prefaced and linked by the soloist with harp who sets the scene for each movement and, in the final homage, joins the choir by adding a fifth vocal line (the harp also joins this movement) which transforms the piece.
These pieces make an ideal concert item and are not very difficult. They do however need reasonably agile sopranos/altos for the Country Girls movement, and a good balanced team of two tenors and two basses for the Rustics and Fishermen. As with many of Britten's choral works there is a lovely balance of moods between the movements which helps to make a satisfying whole. The Final Dance of Homage is particularly moving with its imitative lines moving between voice-parts and building to an impassioned climax before subsiding to a quiet ending.
Duration [Choral Dances, complete]: SATB=9; Tenor/SATB=11 minutes
Paul Spicer, Lichfield, 2011