Six Songs from “A Shropshire Lad” | George Butterworth | Baritone voice and Chamber Wind Ensemble
The very lovely setting of A.E. Housman‘s poems by George Butterworth, reorchestrated for Chamber Wind Ensemble, was commissioned by the Maidstone Wind Symphony for their recent Concert of Remembrance entitled “A Time For Peace“.
Composed in 1911 for baritone voice and piano, this collection of short pieces utilises poems from A.E. Housman’s “A Shropshire Lad” published in 1896. The words have been woven into a delicate and moving composition, with the emotions contained in the text expertly drawn out through use of dynamics and phrasing.
The delicate nature of the original pieces has been kept, with the voices of the wind orchestra giving a new timbral twist to the music. The reality of growing up in wartime is prevalent in the theme of the music and is captured well by Butterworth’s original. There has been a few orchestral settings of these songs, but this arrangement is to be the first for wind band.
Premiered by Martin Hindmarsh and a selection of the Maidstone Wind Symphony players, the performance was delicate and true to the original essence of the piano accompaniment. You can listen to a recording of their performance (whilst admittedly a poor quality) on the score video below.