Ludwig van Beethoven

Welsh Songs (26) for voice(s) & piano trio WoO 155

    Description by Robert Cummings

    These twenty-six songs were produced under an agreement between Beethoven and the Edinburgh-based publisher George Thomson. Beginning around 1809 the composer began setting folk songs, mainly from the British Isles, for Thomson who published them and paid substantial fees. It should be mentioned that at least one account has it that Thomson's remuneration was not as generous as many had previously thought. Whatever the amounts were, they were apparently sufficient to interest Beethoven to write around one hundred-fifty arrangements for Thomson, including these twenty-six. Thomson did not publish all of Beethoven's efforts in the genre, issuing a total of one hundred twenty-five. The composer also probably wrote some arrangements (there were one hundred seventy-nine in all) on his own initiative, most likely those of Continental origin.

    Beethoven wrote twenty-three of these twenty-six Welsh songs for soprano soloist. Two of the remainder, "Sion, Son of Evan" (No. 1) and "The Monks of Bangor's March" (No. 2) are duets for soprano and alto, and "The Dream" (No. 14) for two sopranos. Many of the songs texts are by well-known writers: Scott in Nos. 2 and 12 ("Waken Lords and Ladies"), and Burns in Nos. 13 ("Helpless Woman") and 22 ("Constancy"). Twenty-three of the twenty-six here were composed in 1810, with No. 15 ("When Mortals all to Rest Retire") and No. 20 ("To the Blackbird") both coming in 1813, and No. 25 ("The Parting Kiss") in 1815.

    Beethoven's arrangements are all deftly imagined here and will surely offer rewards to those with an interest in folk music from the British Isles of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. They will have limited appeal to others, however, despite their fine craftsmanship. Thomson published these twenty-six arrangements in 1817 in a collection that also included four song settings of Haydn.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Sion, the son of Evan (Hear the shouts of Evan's son!)
    2. The monks of Bangor's march (When the heathen trumpets clang)
    3. The cottage maid (I envy not the splendour fine)
    4. Love without (Her features speak the warmest heart)
    5. The golden robe (A golden robe my love shall wear)
    6. The fair maid of Mona (How, my love, coulds hapless doubts o'er take thee)
    7. Oh let the night my blushes hide (Oh let the night my blushes hide)
    8. Farewell, farewell, thou noisy town (Farewell, farewell, thou noisy town)
    9. To the Aeolian harp (Harp of the winds! in airy measure)
    10. Ned Pugh's farewell (To leave my dear girl)
    11. Merch Megan (In the white cot where Peggy dwells)
    12. Waken Lords and Ladies gay (Waken Lords and Ladies gay)
    13. Helpless Woman (How cruel are the parents who riches only prize)
    14. The dream (Last night worn with aguish that tortur'd my breast)
    15. When mortals all to rest retire (When mortals all to rest retire)
    16. The damsels of Cardigan (Fair Tivy, how sweet are thy waves gently flowing)
    17. The dairy-house (A spreading hawthorn shades the seat)
    18. Sweet Richard (Yes, thou art chang'd since first we met)
    19. The vale of Clwyd (Think not I'll leave fair Clwyd's vale)
    20. To the blackbird (Sweet warbler of a strain divine)
    21. Cupid's kindness (Dear brother, yes, the nymph you wed)
    22. Constancy (Tho' cruel fate should bid us part)
    23. The old strain (My pleasant home beside the Dee!)
    24. Three hundred pounds (In yonder sung cottage, beneath the cliff's side)
    25. The parting kiss (Laura, thy sighs must now no more)
    26. Good night (Ere yet we slumbers seek)

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2015 Brilliant Classics 94925BR
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94052
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93525
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon 477 5128
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453 786-2GCB7
    Brilliant Classics 93525/82