Hamish MacCunn: Four Songs of Love and Longing

Publisher | choral music,love,women's | Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

MacCunn
Yelton Rhodes Music was recently approached by musicologist Jennifer Oates with an opportunity to publish some partsongs by Scottish romantic composer Hamish MacCunn (1868-1916). MacCunn rose to fame at the age of nineteen with seven orchestral and choral-orchestral works based on Scottish topics (landscape and literature). At the same time, he cultivated a Scottish artistic persona that defined him throughout his career, but he struggled to mediate his Scottishness with his more cosmopolitan music, which was almost exclusively in smaller genres such as partsongs and songs.

Jennifer Oates’ primary area of expertise is in nineteenth- and twentieth-century British music, particularly Scottish art music. So the work of Hamish MacCunn has played a significant role in her research.

A few years ago she was asked to assist with a recording of some of MacCunn’s partsongs by the Queens College Vocal Ensemble (Selected Partsongs of Hamish MacCunn (1868-1916) which can be purchased on iTunes).

In her own words…

Up to this point, I had spent most of my time studying MacCunn’s larger compositions. While I knew that his songs and partsongs are among his most expressive works with some of his most effective use of chromaticism and rapid tonal shifts, it was not until I was editing performance scores of the partsongs that I appreciated that these smaller, intimate pieces are in many ways the gems of his output.

Jennifer decided to seek publication of the partsongs for which she has prepared beautifully and carefully edited scores. She explains her motivation in doing so…

Much of my career has been dedicated to writing about MacCunn and his music. With so few scores of his music available, it has been challenging to get his music out there. While I have published scholarly editions of his overtures, the publication of seven of his partsongs, a genre in which MacCunn excelled, will bring his music to a wider broader range of musicians and to new audiences.

Our first collection is Four Songs of Love and Longing for women’s chorus and piano. These are extremely lovely, reflective works whose lyricism shines. They also happen to be the last partsongs MacCunn wrote, and as Oates claims…

… are his most sophisticated efforts in the genre reflecting contemporary musical trends and showing what he could do when unfettered by patriotism.

Four Songs of Love and Longing contains the following movements (each one is also available separately in our catalog):

I. Whither? (PDF score sample)

II. On a Faded Violet (PDF score sample)

III. O my love, leave me not! (PDF score sample)

IV. Night (PDF score sample)

*All recordings by Queens College Vocal Ensemble, conducted by James John. They are from the 2008 CD: Selected Partsongs of Hamish MacCunn (1868-1916).

Jennifer Oates has an article titled “The Choral Music of Hamish MacCunn (1868-1916)” in the current edition of the American Choral Review, 55/1 (Winter-Spring 2013). Please check it out!

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