British Song


HTGCD240 – 5013993950950

Meriel and Peter Dickinson perform a selection of twentieth century song settings by Jonathan Harvey, Elisabeth Lutyens, Gordon Crosse, Lennox Berkeley and Peter Dickinson.

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[1] Surrealist Landscape (Lord Berners), 1973



Correspondances (Baudelaire), 1975

[2] Song I: La mort

[3] Song II: Bénédiction

[4] Song III : Elévation

[5] Song IV : Chanson d’après midi



Chinese Songs, Opus 78, 1971

[6] People hide their love

[7] The autumn wind

[8] Dreaming of a dead lady

[9] Late spring

[10] The riverside village



The New World (Ted Hughes), 1969

[11] It is not long

[12] When the start was on her brow

[13] A star stands on her forehead

[14] I said goodbye to the earth

[15] The streets was empty

[16] Where did we go?



Extravaganzas (Gregory Corso), 1963-69

[17] The streetsinger

[18] Outside the wall

[19] Death weeps

[20] I hang old photos

[21] Four windmills

[22] O people

[23] Mrs Lombardi’s month-old so is dead

[24] Last night I drove a car



Stevie Smith Songs

[25] Progression

[26] The Songster

[27] Up and down

[28] Ceux qui luttent

[29] Be off!

[30] Lady ‘Rogue’ Singleton

[31] The film star

[32] The actress

[33] The repentance of Lady T

[34] Pad, pad




Tracks 6-24: recorded Conway Hall, London, 18 March 1974.

Tracks 1, 2-5, 25-34: recorded Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, 14 October 1978. Engineering and editing: Bob Auger. Digital remastering: Peter Newble.



Translation of the text of Jonathan Harvey’s Correspondances

I Death

O Death, old captain, it is time! Set sail!
This land palls on us, Death! Let us put to sea!
If sky and ocean are black as coal,
You know our hearts are full of brilliancy!
Pour forth your poison, our deliverance!
This fire consumes our minds, let's bid adieu,
Plumb Hell or Heaven, what's the difference?
Plumb the Unknown, to find out something new!


II Benediction

‘Blessed be Thou, my God, Who givest pain
As cure divine for our impurities,
And as the very essence superfine
Which makes us strong for Thy felicities!
I know that grief's the one nobility
That earth and even hell will not withstand,
That if my mystic crown I justify,
All ages and all worlds I must command.
But the lost jewels of Palmyra old,
The unknown metals, pearls deep in the sea,
By Your hand mounted, still would not, all told,
Give this fine diadem its brilliancy.
For it will be made of pure light alone,
Drawn from the sacred source of every light,
And mortal eyes as radiant as noon
Are mournful mirrors of its splendour bright!’


III Elevation

Above the lake, above the vale,
The forest, cloud and precipice,
Beyond the sun, beyond the skies,
Beyond the spheres celestial.
My agile soul, you take your flight;
And, swimmer ravished by the sea,
Flash gaily through immensity
With marvellous, virile delight.
Fly far from these miasmas foul;
Go, cleanse yourself in higher air,
And drink, wine heavenly and pure,
The light unending, sidereal.
Beyond the griefs and endless woes
That weigh upon our cloudy years,
Happy the spirit strong that soars
To fields serene and luminous.
The one whose thoughts, like larks, take wing
Towards the boundless morning skies,
- Who, far below, can recognise
The speech of flowers and dumb things.


IV Afternoon Song

Although your wicked eyebrows
give you a strange look
which is not that of an angel,
oh witch with your alluring eyes,
I adore you, oh my frivolous
and terrible passion,
with the devotion of a priest
for his idol.
Perfume stalks across your flesh
as if arising from a censer;
you bewitch like the evening,
dark and warm nymph.
Ah! your languor surpasses
the most potent philtre,
and you know of the caress
which makes the dead live again!
Your hips are in love with your back
and your breasts,
and you ravish the cushions.
with your languorous poses
Sometimes, to appease
your mysterious rage,
you solemnly lavish bites
and kisses;
You tear me apart, oh my dark one,
with a mocking laugh,
and then upon my heart you lay
your eye gentle as the moon.
Under your satin shoes,
under your charming feet of silk,
I place my great joy,
my genius and my destiny.
My soul healed by you,
by you, oh light and colour!
explosion of warmth in
my black Siberia!
(translation: Jonathan Harvey)


  1. admin

    ’consistently fine, in good sound, and the repertoire is enormously interesting’
    Nigel Simeone, International Record Review, November 2014

  2. admin

    ‘Altogether a most intriguing and imaginative group of works, and a most persuasive series of performances by the versatile Miss Dickinson.’
    BBC Radio 3 Record Review

  3. admin

    ‘The CD is well-packaged………. All the tracks have been engineered to give perfect reproduction………. Typically, I enjoyed this CD. I concede that the musical style of these songs is often a little removed from my usual comfort zone (Orr, Finzi, Moeran and brethren). However, British art song did not die with those above-named nor even with Benjamin Britten. The tradition lives on as is evidenced by all of the pieces on this CD.’
    John France of Music-Web International

  4. admin

    ‘These recordings – some of them now appearing on CD for the first time – date back to the 1970s. But it is not just out of nostalgia that they can be strongly recommended: the technical invention, expressive range and abiding appeal of the music are all considerable. Moreover, the performances consistently remind you what fine advocates for living composers the Dickinsons have been down the years.’
    Tempo, April 2013

  5. admin

    ‘‘This brother/sister partnership of some 30 years offers British song with many an unpredictable difference, including Peter Dickinson’s take on Lord Berners.’
    BBC Music Magazine, September 2013 4*

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