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The Song Cycle

This is a true song cycle in the tradition that began with Beethoven's To the Distant Beloved where the opening music returns in the final song, albeit here set to a different text. The seven songs, chosen by the poet Margaret Morgan, counterpoise a period of reflection amongst the grandeur of Wordsworth's Lakeland with Kathleen Raine's London life prior and during the Second World War. Songs such as the opening The Fall with its ecstatic observations of nature are set against the wry humour and energy of Far Darting Apollo with its lively references to the Walton & Sitwell Façade. After the heartbreaking farewell of Leaving Martindale, two 'London' poems - the declamatory London Revisited and the waltz-like The Sphere - are brought together with a significant group of keyboard interludes to form the long central section of the work. In The Silver Stag the poet sings an elaborate song of love and desire to the man she waited for in Martindale, and who never came. In the final song Tu non se' in terra, si come tu credi . . . its title and reference to Dante's Purgatory, we return to the world of the opening poem where the cycle began.

As an introduction to this cycle of poems it is strongly recommended that a reading of Parting, the final poem in the collection Stone and Flower, be performed either by the singer or pre-recorded as 'the poet's voice' as it was at the premiere. This long coda to Raine's collection provides a key to unlocking the personal circumstances that surround Stone and Flower, circumstances repeated twenty years later in her tragic affair with the writer Gavin Maxwell.

Raine's Martindale, photograph by Margaret Morgan

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