:: E J Moeran

River God’s Song

Friday, June 3rd, 2022

Suppose the early music movement, complete with loads of lutes, had got properly  under way fifty years earlier…and those English song composers obsessed with 17th century verse had opted for lute instead of piano…and the focus of this amazing new movement was historical performance – doing what you could with whoever was to hand rather than fantasising about composers’ first thoughts…and musicians decided to apply renaissance principles to their own present…then you get ALTERNATIVE HISTORY.

We’ve recorded Warlock and Moeran on our Amores Pasados album, (ECM) and we’re adding to our counter-factual repertoire all the time. Earlier this year, our way to a tour of the Canary Islands, we stopped in Madrid to record some more. We’ve just put the first of two videos up on YouTube: E J Moeran’s River God’s Song from his 1933 Songs of Springtime.

It was originally a choral piece, a setting of Fletcher’s enigmatic poem (I first sang it as a treble).  In our parallel universe we have done what our renaissance predecessors would have done: cannibalised the original print and done our own thing with it. Ariel and Jake play the whole piece and ornament it as though it were a renaissance madrigal, beginning with a lute duet intro before Anna and I sing the original Moeran. It’s essence of Alternative History.

Our alternative universe includes songs and choral music by Roger Quilter, the almost unknown Peter Pope, and even Charles Wood. Watch this space for our next video: Peter Warlock’s Corpus Christi.