Wednesday, January 31, 2018

English suites and others no. 22

Our next Celtic stop is Cornwall. Malcolm Arnold was not Cornish, but he lived at St Merryn on the north coast of that county for several years in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and threw himself into the musical life of the community, organizing Cornish music concerts and writing Cornish-inspired works.

Among them was a set of Four Cornish Dances along the lines of the English Dances we've previously heard. Like them, these are based on original material, but they sound like folk tunes, each evoking some aspect of Cornish life.

Of the four, only No. 1 (0.00) actually sounds much like a dance, and that an irregular one, the first beat of each repetition stomping on the last beat of the previous one. Perhaps it's for fishermen wobbly after getting off the boats. No. 2 (1.36) is slow and spooky, perhaps evoking a trip down a Cornish tin mine. No. 3 (4.45) is an entirely serious Methodist chapel hymn. No. 4 (7.21) seems to mix the moods of all the other three into one.

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