A Ballad for Chorus and Orchestra
Poem by WILLIAM COWPER
Set to Music by FREDERIC H. COWEN
Followed by 'THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN'
A Cantata for Tenor, Bass, Chorus and Orchestra
Poem by ROBERT BROWNING
Set to Music by HUBERT PARRY
THE STATION CHORUS: Chorus Master,
S. H. WHITTAKER
THE AUGMENTED STATION ORCHESTRA, conducted by T. H. MORRISON
Relayed to London and Daventry
FEW light choral works contain so many felicitous touches of humour as Parry's Pied Piper. Parry entered into the spirit of the poet's fun, and gave us, too, the simple pathos in the legend.
The work is not divided up into distinct sections, with Solos and Choruses containing a good deal of repetition, as in the older Cantata style, but follows the changing moods of the story rapidly, and keeps the action moving alertly.
A short Introduction brings in some of the chief themes, and then the Chorus starts off with Hamelin Town's in Brunswick, and tells how the people suffered from the rats, that fought the dogs and killed the cats, and even spoiled the women's chats with shrieking and squealing in fifty different sharps and flats.
The indignant citizens march to the Town
Hall, and with their threats of what will happen if the Mayor and Corporation don't speedily banish the rats, make the dignified city fathers quake - and the music lets us hear their shivering.
The Pied Piper enters, to a sweet little theme with a drooping cadence. The excitement created by his offer to rid the town of rats is painted by Chorus and Orchestra. Then we hear the notes of his pipe and the gathering of the army of rats, and follow their vast procession through the streets with the Piper tootling strangely at their head. A downward scurry in the Orchestra indicates the creatures' plunge into the River Weser; and, at the word 'perished' there is a comical touch of Chopin's Funeral March, the theme of which is immediately quickened up into a dance of joy at the riddance. The ringing of bells is followed by the re-appearance of the Piper (accompanied by his little theme). He asks for his thousand guilders fee, and is offered fifty, which he refuses. If he is provoked, he hints, he may 'pipe after another fashion.' 'Do your worst,' replied the Mayor, 'blow your pipes there till you burst ! '
The Piper returns no answer, but the sweet notes of his instrument are heard again. This time, he draws all the Hamelin children with him, and Chorus and Orchestra depict them skipping and tripping merrily after the mystic music. To the Koppelberg Hill the Piper leads them, and the anxious parents think all is well, after all. 'He never can cross that mighty top. He's forced to let the piping stop.....'
But a wondrous portal ' opens in the mountain side, and, with a last faint sound from the pipe, the player disappears, followed by the bewitched children, and the door shuts fast.