Commissioned by Nigel Perrin

Version for voice and lute available

  • gtr [=pf]
  • medium voice
  • 12 min

Programme Note

Lunar Beauty is a cycle of four songs to poems by WH Auden and was written during January 1986.

The first song, ‘This Lunar Beauty’ is set to a simple 6/8 rhythm and exploits the colour of the counter-tenor’s lower notes.

The text of the second song is a kind of contemporary ballad on a medieval subject – a journey with an unexpected ending, and the music closely mirrors the action.

The third song sets the enigmatic ‘Orpheus’ and seeks to capture the elusive quality of the text by the use of fast notes in the upper register of the lute against longer notes in the voice.

The final song combines the rich chordal sounds of the lute with the lower register of the voice to evoke a gentle nocturnal world, a kind of seaborn lullaby, depicted by the poem.

April 1986


Lunar Beauty: I. This lunar beauty
Lunar Beauty: II. Lady, weeping at the crossroads
Lunar Beauty: III. Orpheus
Lunar Beauty: IV. Lullaby
Lunar Beauty: V. For X
Lunar Beauty: VI. Now through nights caressing grip

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