Dr Edward Caine is a composer, conductor and pianist who has worked with Jeffrey as Research Assistant for the last 3 years. We asked him to recommend some further listening based on the pieces in our A musical Summer Holiday film. We hope you find something new to enjoy.
Here is his third selection of pieces, connected to the 13th-century song Sumer is icumen in that we included.
1. Adam lay ybounden
Adam lay ibownden is a text to a 13/14th-century carol, the melody of which has been lost. It is thought to be one of the earliest English carols extant and is kept in the British library in a collection known as Sloane MS 2593. There have been a few recent settings of these words and Boris Ord’s 1957 setting is the most popular. A wonderful more recent setting is by Birmingham composer Howard Skempton.
2. Britten, A Ceremony of Carols
In my opinion, it is impossible to talk about 15th century carol settings without mentioning A Ceremony of Carols, written for harp and three-part treble chorus, including iconic settings of “Wolcum Yole!”, “There is no rose”, “Balulalow” and “This Little Babe”. This is simply wonderful music.
3. Britten, A Spring Symphony
Britten’s A Spring symphony is a choral symphony that is in some ways programmatic, outlining a may-day ceremony with frequent references to the Cuckoo. It is concluded with the boys choir entering with Sumer is icumen in, altered to a 2/4 meter against a waltz in an ecstatic end to the May-day celebrations.
4. Caine, Jankyn at the Angnus
When this was first performed, Jeffrey opened the performance with a short section of Sumer is icumen in, half in jest, half laying claim to its influence. It does fit extremely well. Although Sumer is icumen in was not a primary influence, my work with Ex Cathedra has greatly supported my fascination with medieval texts and Jankyn at the Angnus is a raunchy text I discovered in a 19th century volume of carol texts collected from Sloane MS. 2593.