Saturday, 11 February 2012

Under Greenery like Scenery

'Early in the morning' is the kind of title you might expect from an English folksong, but it's also the title of the best-known song by the great American classical songwriter  Ned Rorem (b. 1923). I would love you to take a listen to this delightful work (written in 1954), as it's one of Rorem's loveliest pieces. It couldn't be further in spirit from English folksong!

It's a setting of the American poet Robert Hillyer:

Early in the morning 
On a lovely summer day
As they lowered the bright awning
At the outdoor cafe 
I was breakfasting on croissants and cafe au lait
Under greenery like scenery,
Rue Francois Premier 

They were hosing the hot pavement 
With a dash of flashing spray 
And a smell of summer showers 
When the dust is drenched away 
Under greenery like scenery, 
Rue Francois Premier 

I was twenty and a lover 
And in paradise to stay 
Very early in the morning 
Of a lovely summer day.

Ned Rorem was influenced by Francis Poulenc, and that entirely benign influence is clearly heard in Early in the MorningIt's also to be heard in instrumental works, such as the pleasing Sinfonia for winds (and optional other instruments).

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