Products CD 'Gentle Springs'
Charlemagne Music
‘Gentle Springs – a pastoral evocation’
Nick Pepin (counter tenor) and June Clark (piano)
A beautiful new CD recorded by Nick Pepin and June Clark contains some of the most enchanting songs of the British repertoire. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries many famous composers wrote for the counter tenor voice, and on this disc are included such songs by John Dowland and Henry Purcell. During the latter years of the twentieth century interest in this voice has been rekindled. Admirably suited to the counter tenor timbre is our heritage of folksong and so to widen the repertoire still further and forge new ground June has made arrangements of some of the best loved. Also on the disc is a selection from ‘A Shropshire Lad’ by George Butterworth.

The title of the disc ‘Gentle Springs’ derives from the chorus of the beautiful Dowland song ‘Flow not so fast ye fountains’. Three piano pieces by Percy Grainger continue the same sentiment of the pastoral nature of beautiful countryside. The last of the Dowland group, ‘Now O now I needs must part’, has been linked to Grainger’s piano transcription, thereby bridging the gap of four centuries by the metamorphosis of the simple song into the ever more complex and daring harmonies of the Grainger piece.


CM 22101


  Track Details : Songs  
Loch Lomond (arranged 2003 June Clark, words traditional)
This well known traditional Scottish folksong tells of lost love where once ‘me and my true love were ever wont to gae, on the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond’.

David of the White Rock (arranged 2003 June Clark, words traditional)
The Welsh Bard, David, lies on his deathbed. He longs once more to touch his beloved harp strings before departing this life. ‘Let thy last notes linger over my grave’, as the song is sung at his funeral.

O can ye sew cushions (arranged 2003 June Clark, words traditional)
This charming little Scottish lullaby tells of hard times when father is away at sea. Yet is poignantly beautiful, ‘Black’s the life that I lead wi’ ye. Many o’ you, little for to gi’ ye’.

The Ash Grove (arranged 2003 June Clark, words traditional)
Beloved of many this Welsh folksong tells again of lost love, whilst remembering the days of long ago, when around the two lovers ‘the bluebells were ringing’. Now his true love lies sleeping ‘neath the green turf down by the Ash Grove’.

An Eriskay Love Lilt (arranged 1908 Marjory Kennedy-Fraser, words by Kenneth Macleod)
The serene nature of this setting of a Song of the Hebrides creates a tranquil atmosphere of the island. Again the theme is lost love.

Go no more a rushing (attributed to Queen Elizabeth I 1533-1603)
This is a charming little ditty in the form of a riddle. It appears in her Virginal Book and might possibly have been written by her, though some sources think the tune is much earlier.

An Evening Hymn (1688) Henry Purcell 1659-1695, words by William Fuller)
Wonderfully evocative words pervade this short poem, and bring forth the magnificent genius of Purcell in this inspired song, which ends triumphantly.

Music for a While (1692) Henry Purcell 1659-1695, words by John Dryden and Matthew Lee)
These words are a comfort to the soul in times of stress. Purcell’s setting evokes not only this air of calm but also the strain of the eternal struggle against evil. This aria comes from ‘Oedipus’, a theatre production with music.

Fairest Isle (1691) Henry Purcell 1659-1695, words by John Dryden)
Again a love song; ‘and as these excel in beauty those shall be renowned for love’. The song comes from Purcell’s dramatic opera, a play with extensive music, ‘King Arthur’.

A Shropshire Lad (1911) Three songs, by George Butterworth 1885-1916)
words by A.E. Housman.

Look not in mine eyes
This song tells of how Narcissus fell in love with his own image, when the young man catches a glimpse of himself mirrored in a pool.

When I was one-and-twenty
Youthful innocence, and perhaps arrogance, causes the young man to ignore advice given to him when he was but twenty-one. When he reaches the grand age of twenty-two he realises that the words of the wise man were true.

The Lads in their Hundreds
The poignancy of this song is the fact that many of the young lads who are enjoying themselves at the fair will never be allowed to grow old. Sadly they will not return from the battlefield. Butterworth himself was one of these lads as he was killed at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

In Summertime on Bredon (1911) Graham Peel 1877-1937, words by A.E.Housman)
Sadness is again the keynote of this beautiful song, which tells of the joy of love between two young people. Sadly the young man’s bride dies before the wedding day and on a snowy Christmas day is brought to the church in a coffin.

Come again, sweet love doth now invite (1597) John Dowland, 1563-1626, words anonymus)
This song comes from The First Book of Songs and tells of the pains of true love. ‘I sit, I sigh, I weep, I faint, I die in deadly pain and endless misery’

Flow not so fast ye fountaines (1603) John Dowland, words anonymus)
‘What needeth all this haste?’ The theme of the song is thus, and the charming and graceful chorus ‘Gentle springs, freshly your salt teares must still fall dropping from their spheres’ is the inspiration for the title of the CD. The song comes from The Third Book of Songs

Fine Knacks for Ladies (1600) John Dowland, words anonymus)
This jolly little fantasy comes from The Second Book of Songs. It is sometimes known as ‘The Pedlar’s Song’, which aptly describes this tale of the pedlar and his wares.

Now, O now I needs must part (1597) John Dowland, words anonymus)
The words are written to an existing tune (the Frog Galliard) and refer to the departure from England of the Duc d’Alencon, a French suitor of Queen Elizabeth I The song comes from The First Book of Songs

The Inniskillen Dragoon (date unknown )arranged A. Moffat 1866-1950, words traditional)
This tender little song tells of the soldier who has to say Farewell to Inniskillen to go to war, and leave behind his beloved country and girlfriend. If the worst comes to worst he will have died for her sake.

My Love’s an Arbutus (arranged 2002 June Clark, words traditional)
Here the Irish writer likens his love to the beautiful arbutus tree that grows by the Borders of Lene. And though time passes he will still remember her ‘like the evergreen leaf of the arbutus tree’

Star of the County Down (arranged 2004 June Clark, words traditional)
This is a ballad story of a young man’s fancy for the ‘sweet colleen’ of the County Down and his exploits in wooing the maid.

Londonderry Air (arranged 2002 June Clark, words traditional)
Known also as ‘Danny Boy’ this is one of the most well known and well loved in the Irish folk repertoire. It again tells the story of lost love, and how the lover will wait until he is reunited with his love in death and beyond. The words were written by Fred Weatherly in 1910, but originally using a different tune. Two years later the more popular tune was used.

  Track Details : Piano  
Piano pieces by Percy Grainger (played by June Clark)

‘At Twilight’ (1900)

This piece for mixed chorus, marked ‘quietly and tenderly’ was originally a setting of the opening lines of Kipling’s ‘Rhyme of the three sealers’, beginning; Away by the lands of the Japanese where paper lanterns glow…

Grainger’s own note states:
When I ended this chorus with the chord E flat, B flat. G, C, E flat (the chord with which so many thousands of jazz compositions have since been closed) I thought I was closing a piece with a discord for the first time in musical history. Perhaps it was the first time that this particular chord was so used. But the end of the second act of Debussy’s ‘Pelleas et Melisande’ must already have been written, though I did not know it. I heard nothing of Debussy’s until the summer of 1902.

This piano version was ‘dished up’ by the composer in September 1939.

Near Woodstock Town (1903)

Grainger’s own note:
It is the nature of folksongs, popular songs, hymn, chorales that a melody is repeated over and over again – on the Faeroe Islands as many as 200 verses are sung to the same tune without stopping. So in harmonising such melodies some element of contrast and variety must be sought. Bach, Grieg and Cyril Scott furnished variety in rare harmonies (often quite foreign to the suggestions of the melody) in polyphonic devices, and the like. I am fond of providing a ‘counter-melody’ – a melodic line that seems to enjoy a life of its own.

Indeed the three repetitions of the melody are each treated with different harmonies, the first being fairly traditional. The second version sports his ‘counter-melody’, which is sung by the counter-tenor, ending with Middle C being boomed out according to his instructions ‘like a foghorn’. The third version is furnished with even more outlandish, but beautiful and unexpected harmonies.

Originally composed again for mixed chorus this piano and voice arrangement dates June 1951.

Now, O now I needs must part

Grainger’s own note:
My piano piece is based on a transcription by Mr Sidney Beck as it appears in a copy of the 1597 edition of John Dowland’s ‘The First Book of Songs or Ayres of foure parts with Tableture for the lute’. In my setting the melody is heard twice, the first time with harmonies almost identical with those of Dowland’s lute accompaniment (but adapted to pianistic technique), and the second time with free harmonies and a tailpiece of my own.

The piece was composed in 1935 and dedicated ‘for my darling Aunty Clara, with fond love’. As the piece progresses we are transported from the 16th century into the world of Delius and his chromaticism, thereby bridging the gap of four centuries with an amazing metamorphosis of the simple song into ever more complex and daring harmonies.

So complex does the score become that Grainger thoughtfully indicates the Dowland melody in larger type notes, in case the performer were to lose sight of it amongst the web of surrounding notes.

The counter-tenor
The counter-tenor is a high male voice of distinctive timbre, whose heyday was the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Then for almost three centuries the counter-tenor was supplanted by the female alto, the contralto. But during the latter years of the twentieth century the counter-tenor has experienced a renaissance. Contemporary composers such as Benjamin Britten and Leonard Bernstein have composed works specifically with this voice in mind.

The wonderful legacy from earlier centuries includes a multitude of songs by Henry Purcell and John Dowland, some of which are heard on this recording. Three songs by Purcell illustrate his profound perception of the counter-tenor and its capabilities. ‘An Evening Hymn’ shows the breadth and technical diversity of the voice, whilst ‘Music for a While’ and ‘Fairest Isle’ draw out the emotive qualities. Dowland’s ‘Come again! Sweet love doth now invite’ illustrates the eternal anguish of love, requited or otherwise. ‘Fine knacks for ladies’, also known as ‘The Pedlar’s Song’ is lively, whilst the beautiful pastoral evocation of ‘Flow not so fast ye fountaines’ provides in its chorus the title of the disc ‘Gentle Springs’. ‘Go no more a-rushing’ is a pretty trifle in the form of a riddle, attributed to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I.

But also admirably suited to the counter-tenor timbre is our heritage of folksong and so, in a desire to widen the repertoire still further and forge new ground, June Clark has made seven arrangements of some of the most enchanting and best loved folksongs of these islands. They include selections from Ireland, ‘My love’s an arbutus’, ‘Star of the County Down’, and ‘The Londonderry Air’, Scotland, ‘Loch Lomond’, and ‘O can ye sew cushions’, and Wales, ‘David of the White Rock’ and ‘The Ashgrove’.

Similarly such poignant and telling works as a selection from George Butterworth’s ‘A Shropshire Lad’ and Graham Peel’s ‘In Summertime on Bredon’ have been transposed into suitable keys, as it seems sad that little of this great treasure period of our British song heritage was ever written with this unique voice in mind. The youthful charms of the Butterworth songs, and surely one of the saddest, yet moving, narratives of the Peel song, are admirably represented by the counter-tenor.

Three piano pieces by Percy Grainger continue the same sentiment of the pastoral nature of beautiful countryside. ‘At Twilight’ was originally a song, ‘Away by the lands of the Japanese where the paper lanterns glow’ (Kipling). The second piece, ‘Near Woodstock Town’, is an imaginative realisation of the folksong. In the middle Grainger adds a counter melody to be sung over the piano. The harmonies towards the end become more adventurous, as is this composer’s trademark. The third piano piece ‘Now, O now I needs must part’ has been linked together with the original Dowland song, a farewell to Elizabeth from a departing suitor. The piano transcription thereby bridges the gap of four centuries with an amazing metamorphosis of the simple song into the ever more complex and daring harmonies of the Granger work.

  Top of page