Parry, Ben: Early One Morning
Ben Parry, master choral director, composer and animateur, brings his own unique touch to a new a cappella arrangement of the classic English folksong Early one morning. Although the text survives in many forms, Parry has chosen the words as set in familiar versions by Britten and others, and with a particular ear for the drama of this ‘damsel’s complaint for the loss of her lover’, as charmingly described in Chappell’s landmark Popular Music of the Olden Time. Thus, tenors and basses begin the story in verse 1, answered by sopranos launching the poor maiden’s lament, continued richly harmonised in verse 2. A harmonic adventure to the flattened submediant reflects the serious tone of verse 3 – as the true love is vainly reminded of his vows – while tenors resume the narrator’s part in verse 4. The maiden’s final plea begins bravely, but dissolves in wisps of melody into the morning air.
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