(1987, CD )
Orch., Handley (1989, CD )
"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
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
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