Novello, 1935


English Chamber Orch,

(1987, CD )

Ulster Orch., Handley (1989, CD )



Further Writing







Whythorne's Shadow (1926-31?)

"This piece is based on a part-song by Thomas Whythorne published in 1571. The nature of the present work cannot be better expounded than by quotation of the poem of Whythorne's song.

As thy shadow itself apply'th
To follow thee whereso thou go
And when thou bends, itself it wry'th
Turning as thou both to and fro:
The flatterer doth even so;
And shopes himself the same to gloze,
With many a fawning and gay show,
Whom he would frame for his purpose"

from Moeran's preface to Whythorne's Shadow


According to Barry Marsh's meticulous chronology, Moeran began work on a short piece for small orchestra in 1926 while living in Eynsford with Peter Warlock. The previous year, Warlock had transcribed, edited and published Whythorne's As Thy Shadow Itself Apply'th, reviving the maligned Elizabethan composer's reputation, and providing the inspiration for one of Moeran's few compositions of the time.

Unfortunately we will never hear the original version written at Eynsford. In mid-January, 1929, Moeran left England with Warlock and a group of friends for France and an expedition to visit Delius. According to Eric Fenby, however, Moeran was 'mislaid' on the way, and almost certainly never met his hero. He also managed to end up drunk in Brussels, as Warlock soon after related: "his last composition...was unfortunately not picked up by the kindly Brussels gendarme who found its composer in a state of beatific coma in the gutter some years ago; and nothing more has been heard of it since that occasion".

Warlock did not live to see the resurrection of Whythorne's Shadow that emerged in 1931, and it is impossible to say how closely it resembles the original. If the forward-looking String Trio might be seen as an elegy to Warlock, Geoffrey Self suggests that Whythorne's Shadow is Moeran's almost nostalgic 'In Memoriam' to his friend. The music begins gently in a very formal evocation of the original harmony, and moves gradually through rondo form, to become what Self entitles "Warlock's Shadow", its final chromaticism soaked in the harmonies both composer friends had loved in the 1920s.

Christopher Palmer, in 1976, wrote "What he does here, in fact, is to gather together in a single brief movement the whole complex chain of technical affinities relating Delius, the folklorists and the Elizabethans. Here is the English Delius movement in a nutshell."

The piece is coupled with Lonely Waters as "Two Pieces for Small Orchestra", and invariably the two appear together in recordings. Yet there is little to link the pieces - even the orchestral requirements are different - and it seems the association is one of publishing convenience rather than musical affinity.




Here is the English Delius movement in a nutshell...

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